Statistics hard to bear

Conservation organizations learned some disturbing news last week, when government statistics out of British Columbia revealed a record number of grizzly bears had been killed there last year.

Members of the Raincoast Conservation Society told The Globe and Mail they were shocked by news that the deaths totaled 430, a sharp increase from 300 bears in a typical year. The group had been granted access to bear mortality rates through a court order in 2004. About 88 percent of the bear deaths were caused by hunters.

What’s most disturbing, biologists say, is that the government’s estimates on the species’ population isn’t based on scientific analysis (counting the bears), but rather on an assumption of how many bears should be found based on the size of the habitat upon which they roam.