March 18, 2009 Page 1 of 2
Partner Briefing Note The Foothills Research Institute (FRI): The Foothills Research Institute (formerly the Foothills Model Forest) is a leader in developing innovative science and knowledge for integrated resource management on the forest landscape through diverse and actively engaged partnerships. As a non-advocacy organization, the Foothills Research Institute provides science-based tools and knowledge that is understandable and available to natural resource managers, policy makers, and the public. Grizzly Bear Research Program: The Foothills Research Institute's Grizzly Bear Program was created in 1999 to provide knowledge and planning tools to land and resource managers to ensure the long-term conservation of grizzly bears in Alberta. Key to its efforts are sound scientific field research, practical results, and a large-scale or ‘landscape level’ approach toward grizzly bear conservation. The Foothills Research Institute, including its employees, does not speak to grizzly bear management and policy. Issue Background: The Foothills Research Institute is a unique community of partners tied to the land and its people through a common concern for the welfare of the land and its resources. One of the Institute’s biggest strengths is its diverse and actively engaged partnership. Part of having an engaged partnership is participation in the program work planning process. This participation comes in the form of Activity Teams which are chosen, by Program Leads, to help formulate program proposals for the upcoming work year. These proposals are then reviewed by the Foothills Research Institute’s Board of Directors. Recently issues have arisen surrounding the Grizzly Bear Program’s population studies. Specifically, Jim Pissot, a member of the Grizzly Bear Program Activity Team who works for American based Defenders of Wildlife, has been putting the Foothills Research Institute in a contentious position with its partners, programs, and the public. A CBC radio program, highlighted in detail below, recently aired a documentary piece that was developed back in June, 2008. The piece contains Gord Stenhouse, Jim Pissot, Morris Nadeau, and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development. The morning before this show aired Tom Archibald and Gordon Stenhouse received an email from Jim Pissot. In the email Jim asked numerous questions about the status, adequacy, and source of the financial support for the grizzly bear population studies. He also went on to ask whether the Province announced to the Foothills Research Institute any changes in the grizzly bear research program supported by provincial funds. Later that afternoon Jim Pissot received a reply from Gordon Stenhouse which was quoted in an email written by Jim and sent to Gillian Rutherford with CBC. This email, titled “Stenhouse
Page 2 of 2
confirms research cuts”, was then circulated by Jim to a broad mailing list. In the email to Gillian Rutherford, Jim said that Gord Stenhouse responded to his query late in the afternoon and mentioned that the Fish and Wildlife Director had pulled the plug on planned DNA inventories in northern Alberta because it was "too much money and not enough bears." Further statements in the email indicated that Jim Pissot is concerned that: The Alberta government is terminating an unfinished scientific population assessment. The Minister will now remain undecided forever. The question of “how many” will be left open for debate. The email conclusion indicated that there will also be another show similar to the one aired on March 17th at 9:00am. It is expected that the next show will further emphasize the comments made by Gordon Stenhouse in response to questions posed by Jim Pissot. CBC Radio - The Current: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/ Documentary aired Tuesday March 17th, 2009 @ 9:00am Meet Alberta's "Mr. Grizzly Bear," a wildlife biologist intent on protecting the home turf of the big bears. 1
Show Introduction: “… Counting Alberta's grizzly bears has become a contentious -- even prickly -- business. The province says their numbers are dropping to dangerously low levels. Hunters and developers disagree. And the problem is no one knows for sure what the actual population is. Enter Alberta's Mr Grizzly Bear .. a wildlife biologist intent on counting each and every bear and providing the science the province needs to create legislation to protect the big bears” Actions: Jim Pissot’s recent comments and actions regarding grizzly bears in Alberta are not expected from Activity Team members. Activity Team members are appointed to not only advise the Program but to represent the broad spectrum of partners. In doing so, they must subscribe to the Mission and Values which include non-advocacy. The Foothills Research Institute cannot afford to be put in a situation that could jeopardize its reputation and the future of its research programs. As a result, the Foothills Research Institute is currently developing a code of conduct for Activity Team members that will include: impartiality, disclosure, furthering private interests, intellectual property, and communications. The Foothills Research Institute will continue to support its programs by reporting on the science-based tools and knowledge that is understandable and available to natural resource managers, policy makers, and the public.
“Mr. Grizzly Bear” is a direct reference to Gordon Stenhouse.