Inventory of wildlife populations is often the first step needed to determine the appropriate conservation status of species and to develop or improve the management of those species. For threatened and endangered species, population monitoring is a critical step to developing effective recovery plans intended to stop or reverse the decline of a listed species. Recovery plans should be designed with the intent and ability to monitor the species throughout the recovery process as it serves to estimate trend in abundance and distribution and aids in understanding the ecological and human factors that influence those changes in time and space. Thus, it also serves to track the response of the species to recovery efforts and to inform, in a timely manner, appropriate management responses.
Grizzly bears have suffered dramatic range reductions and suspected population declines due to over-exploitation and habitat loss. These issues, and the continued threat of human-caused mortality rates, have spurred conservation efforts in Alberta over the past decade. A province-wide hunting moratorium was instituted in 2006 and an extensive DNA-based capture-markrecapture (CMR) study was conducted from 2004 to 2008. This CMR study provided the first population estimates for the majority (five out of seven) of the Bear Management Areas (BMAs) in the province. Baseline population estimates from these provincial DNA inventories were used, along with other information, to change the status of grizzly bears in Alberta to Threatened.