Cameras have been deployed throughout the territory to study the behaviour of bears in the area. (Photo credit, Cael Cook)

Cameras have been deployed throughout the territory to study the behaviour of bears in the area. (Photo credit, Cael Cook)

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

COVID-19 continues to be tough on people. But it might be doing good things for the grizzly bears of B.C.’s central coast.

A positive outcome of the COVID-19 shutdown for the Klemtu-based Kitasoo-Xai’Xais First Nation, was the opportunity to study tourism’s impact on the grizzly bears in their region.

The Kitasoo-Xai’Xais reserve has maintained a shutdown since the pandemic began and will continue to do so until further notice. This gave the community the perfect chance to invest in a research program that could be conducted only in the absence of tourists.

Dr. Christina Service, the lead scientist in charge of the project with the Resource Stewardship Department of the Kitasoo-Xai’Xai Nation, was glad that they mobilized really quickly when the situation presented itself and deployed 40 infrared cameras which are triggered when the animals walk by.

“Since we’re not going to have tourism in the territory this year, it provided a remarkably unique situation where we could essentially study and take baseline conditions to see what these bears will do in the absence of tourism.”

The cameras will be taken down in October and the recordings will be used to analyze behaviour patterns and to get a sense of how the bears choose to spend their time in the absence of humans. The process will be repeated and cameras will be re-installed again in spring 2021, when hopefully tourism activity will have resumed again.

The results will then be compared to arrive at a sustainable management plan for a conservation-based economy for the community, said Service.

“So we’re looking at factors like ‘what areas should humans be restricted to that have the least impact on bears?’ Or, ‘what time of the day does tourism heavily impact bears?’ There will definitely be some interesting patterns to see.”

Since the research is spread over two years, Service said it will be a while before they have concrete answers. But the study will help provide the “best available information” to formulate a management plan.

The First Nation has seen increased pressure from tourism since the Great Bear Rainforest was established and visitors started coming to the territory to learn more. And though tourism opportunities are welcomed, the First Nation also indicated its desire to conserve the bears in their region.

Service commended the Kitasoo-Xai’Xais First Nation for their “interest, capacity and desire” to invest in such a research program, especially at a time when there’s so much uncertainty with the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

CoronavirusEnvironment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES photo)
UBCO program increases drug checking availability in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon

January 2021 data shows of 95 opioid samples tested across Interior Health, 93 contained fentanyl

Person experiencing homelessness. (Black Press Media file photo)
Program preventing youth homelessness launches in Kelowna

Upstream Project’s goal is to help young people become more resilient

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Larch Place is the first building to be built in the BC Housing, Canadian Mental Health Association housing project at the corner of Third Street SW and Fifth Avenue SW. This view is from the Shuswap Street side where it sits behind the Graystone East building. (File photo)
Opening of doors at new housing development in Salmon Arm welcomed

BC Housing announces opening of 32 rental units, with 35 more expected in summer 2021

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia
And Then There Were None

What book knocked your booties off when you were young?

Most Read