Canada: Trackers find grizzly bear 'forest highway'

Grizzly bear mother with cub

Bear trackers on Canada's Pacific coast say they have found a "highway" used by grizzly bears to travel across hundreds of miles of forest.

Tracker William Housty and other members of the Qqs Society - in the Heiltsuk First Nation - have been studying the bears for more than three years. They say the population of grizzly bears may be as much as six times bigger than they first thought, and their territory in the Great Bear Rainforest is far more extensive than they realised, CBC News reports.

Most intriguing, though, are the bears' favourite routes. One in particular - along the banks of the salmon-rich Koeye River - amounts to a "bear highway" for the 65 grizzlies identified in the valley, Housty says. "The bears walk in the same steps every time. Their feet are imprinted in the trail." He adds: "You can follow these trails and really walk the same highway the bears walk."

The Heiltsuk Coastwatch team is planning to extend their tracking to other river systems on British Columbia's Central Coast, this time using fur snares to collect DNA, and hope their findings could lead to the development of a wildlife management plan for the whole region.

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