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The Wind River Bear Institute has been operating bear aversion programs in Kananaskis Country in Alberta for fourteen years. These bear aversion programs involve the non-contact use of Karelian bear dogs, who sheperd bears away from high-use areas (such as campgrounds and roads) to avoid confrontations between people and bears. By directing the bears away from these areas, this promotes public safety and helps to encourage healthy grizzly bear populations in one of the few areas in Alberta where grizzly populations are stable and where livestock is not located.
The Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Department of the Government of Alberta is a critical funding source for this program, and has delayed the approval of funding for this year's bear aversion program. The program is cost effective, and has directly contributed to the reduction in grizzly bear fatalities caused by negative human interaction. The Minister of this Department, Diana McQueen, needs to know that cancelling this program will have devastating results - both jeopardizing the safety of people and the lives of the bears who live in, and migrate through, Kananaskis Country.