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Hunters take aim at grizzly bears

CHRIS SERVHEEN / USFWSTensions are high between scientists and the authorities in the Canadian province of British Columbia. With only a few days until the start of the grizzly bear hunting season, the local government authorized an increase in the number of animals that hunters are permitted to kill: from 1,700 to 1,800 per season. A group of scientists published a letter in the journal Science to protest. Citing research on the bear population in the region, the article claims that between 2001 and 2011, in over half of the 42 areas where bear hunting is permitted in British Columbia, the number of bear deaths from unnatural causes (such as traffic accidents or hunting) was higher than the maximum 6% annual mortality rate of the bear population permitted by the government. In Nature, Paul Paquet, biologist at the University of Victoria in Canada, says that “the studies show that deaths will have to decline by 81% for the bear population to recover, because these animals are long-lived and are slow to reproduce.” Although some sub-populations are in decline, the species is not threatened with extinction, which is why the authorities opened areas to hunting that in the past were closed.