2010 volume 42(5) pages 1138 – 1156

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Dempsey J, 2010, "Tracking grizzly bears in British Columbia’s environmental politics" Environment and Planning A 42(5) 1138 – 1156

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Tracking grizzly bears in British Columbia’s environmental politics

Jessica Dempsey

Received 13 June 2009; in revised form 20 October 2009

Abstract. Geographers and others have written many words about British Columbian environmental politics. Stories about this place often revolve around conflicts between the government, the forest industry, First Nations, and environmentalists, battling it out to secure their vision of appropriate land use on the ground. This paper examines a particularly heated conflict over land use in the Great Bear Rainforest region, a large tract of temperate rainforest blanketing the central and north coasts of British Columbia. But this essay takes a different cut into understanding this particular political event, in that it tracks an often-unrecognized actor through the politics there: the grizzly bear. Drawing inspiration from scholarship that challenges the primacy of humans in our understandings of politics and social life, I argue that the grizzly bear influences and inflects BC’s coastal forest politics; it is an important player in the transformation of the Great Bear Rainforest. I tell the story of environmental politics there by tracing the grizzly bear’s shifting relationships with others, including with settlers, conservation biologists, environmentalists and money, all of which are consequential for the grizzly bear, and for others in the region.

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