Grizzly bears are active on several Whistler-area trails leading to the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) decision to close an alpine trail network.
The Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Lake trail network will be closed until Sept. 11. This includes:
· Rainbow Lake Hiking Trail (above Flank Trail)
· Hanging Lake Camping area
· Into the Mystic (above Less Trail)
· On the Rocks
· With A Twist
· Pot of Gold
· Ninja Loop Upper
· Lord of the Squirrels
· Happy Hour
· Last Call
· Rush Hour
The RMOW and the Conservation Officer Service will continue to monitor grizzly activity, and may require a further extension of trail closures.
The closure is aligned with, and supported by, the RMOW’s Human-Grizzly Bear Conflict Mitigation Strategy. The Strategy aims to minimize impacts of recreation trail use on grizzly bear habitat and identify actions to minimize human interactions on the alpine trail system.
The alpine areas of Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Lake provide ideal foraging habitat for the grizzly bears, especially in late summer-early fall when the bears are entering the hyperphagia period.
This is when the bears need to feed continuously in order to prepare for winter hibernation. Human interactions during this time cause disruptions to their feeding, which can lead to aggressive behaviour.
About British Columbia’s grizzly bears
Grizzly bears are a significant part of the B.C. landscape. There are approximately 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia, which is about a quarter of the North American population. Of the 56 grizzly bear population units still in existence in B.C., nine are classified as threatened.
Grizzly bears are an important umbrella species that sustain many other species. They play a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, for example, by distributing salmon nutrients into forests and transporting seeds through their feces.
Habitat quality and population density vary widely across the province. Currently listed as threatened, grizzly bears in Whistler are part of the Squamish-Lillooet Grizzly Bear Population Unit and are managed for recovery by the province.
The cumulative effects of human development are the greatest threat to grizzly bears in B.C. As a result, the RMOW passed a resolution supporting grizzly bear recovery, and the Human-Grizzly Bear Conflict Mitgation Strategy was developed in partnership with the province and the Conservation Officer Service.
To learn more about the RMOW’s bear conservation efforts visit whistler.ca/bears.