Hunters angered by poached grizzlies

A grizzly bear is pictured in this file photo.

A grizzly bear is pictured in this file photo.

Michael Platt, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

CALGARY -- In the snarly debate about how many grizzlies roam Alberta, it's an undeniable fact: there are now a whole lot less of them, thanks to poachers.

Thirty-one dead grizzly bears for 2013 is the gruesome tally announced Tuesday by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, who say the number surpasses anything seen over the past decade.

"More human-caused grizzly deaths were reported in 2013 than any other year in the last decade. And unfortunately, the number of bears poached last year was the highest it has been in many years," reads the ESRD website, which breaks down the corpses into categories.

For a species listed as threatened in the province -- official counts say there are 760 Alberta grizzlies -- it's bad news.

Along with 13 grizzlies killed through human conflict, including road fatalities, there were 11 bears illegally slain by poachers -- a statistic met with universal disgust on all sides of the grizzly bear debate.

"I don't even like the name hunter and poacher being used in the same breath, because if you're going to that extreme, you're just shooting it to kill the bloody thing," said Robert Miskosky, publisher of Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine.

"There's no excuse for just up and shooting a grizzly bear, an animal that's considered endangered."

The province did not provide details of the 11 illegal kills, which have in past years included poachers gunning down grizzlies just to obtain trophies.

In December, an Edmonton man was sentenced to five months in jail and ordered to pay $10,000 in fines for shooting a sow grizzly and her cub in 2010, after wildlife officers, acting on a tip, raided the poacher's garage and found the head and claws of a sow grizzly.


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