The emaciated grizzly was found dead on Smith Inlet in Central Coast of B.C. (Submitted photo)

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

An emaciated grizzly was found dead yesterday on the B.C. Central Coast yesterday, sparking concern over the rest of bear population and its food supply.

The bear was found at Smith Inlet, about 60 kilometres north of Port Hardy in the traditional territory of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nation, by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw team on a river patrol near Nekite River estuary.

“The poor bear starved to death,” said John Smith, a fisheries supervisor with the band and the one who found the dead grizzly. Smith said there are very few fish in the river right now, adding he saw five other bears who seemed “thinner than normal” but not as bad as the dead one.

‘I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Patricia Sewid, a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw fisheries officer.

RELATED: Emaciated grizzlies photographed off north end of Vancouver Island

RELATED: Bear tales: A grizzly adventure of a lifetime!

While Sewid returned to Port Hardy last week she said that she had counted the lowest salmon numbers of her career.

“Eight days ago I counted just over 300 pinks, ideally I should have counted over 10,000,” said Sewid.

The low number of salmon is not helping the bears, she said and added that this year she observed a low count of berries too– another food source.

The Smith Inlet team is used to observing grizzlies on a regular basis in their territory. When the grizzlies come out of hibernation from April to May, they are usually skinny and they gain weight in a couple of weeks, said Sewid. But seeing an emaciated grizzly in September is alarming.

Tom Rivest, a guide and co-owner of the Great Bear Lodge, who is familiar with the grizzly population in these areas has said that it is difficult to conclude anything definitively without a necropsy, as the bear could also have some underlying condition which prevented it from feeding.

But he also said that the salmon numbers are very low and berry crops were patchy this year. Some of the bears he observed seemed to be in good shape while many are just “getting by.”

“The challenge is, we only see a few percent of the habitat the bears use, so a lot of our observations allow only limited conclusions,” said Rivest.

This is not the first time the image of an emaciated grizzly has caused concern for a First Nation. Last year, Broughton’s grizzlies received global attention after a photographer shared images of emaciated grizzlies from the traditional territory of the Mamalilikulla First Nation.

Since there was hardly any salmon in Hoeya Sound and Lull Bay, the First Nation took matters into its own hands and fed more than 500 salmon carcasses they ordered from a hatchery to the bears– an act that got the First Nation in a tight spot with conservation officers and the Forest Ministry.

Jake Smith the Mamalilikulla guardian watchman program manager told Black Press Media that this year too they have a grizzly in Lull Bay that “doesn’t look too good.”

Jake received the images of the emaciated grizzly from Smith Inlet from a fellow guardian watchmen yesterday. “There was nothing worse than seeing that picture,” said Jake.

He also said that he has been receiving images of emaciated grizzlies from across the province this year. A couple of months ago, he received an image of an emaciated grizzly from Little Nemo Bay.

“First Nations are slowly losing our resources like salmon, which has a huge domino effect of our wildlife. If we have no salmon, then we have no bears, eagles, whales, no tourism industry etc,” said Jake.

He also said that the guardian watchmen have communicated some of these concerns along with other issues they’ve come across while patrolling through their traditional territories to the authorities but there has neither been any response nor collaborative efforts.

“It seems like the authorities don’t want to do anything about it,” said Jake and added, “they’ll slap your hands and say ‘that’s not right’ when you take matters into your own hand or say that these deaths are just ‘natural’.”

He said that grizzlies starving and dying indicated a serious problem and studies need to be undertaken to see what the real problem is.

“When a grizzly dies of starvation it’s not natural, it’s a man made disaster,” said Jake and added that conservation officers and DFO need to buckle up and find out what is going on.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

EnvironmentFirst Nationsgrizzly

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sicamous resident Paige Mounce says she has found numerous sick mice and rodents on her property. She wants the district to get started with a non-chemical treatment program so that other animals that might eat the poisoned rodents do not get sick. (Paige Mounce-Facebook)
Numerous rat complaints in Sicamous prompt look at pest control options

Resident warns chemical treatment dangerous to pets, livestock, wildlife

x
Morning Start: Bubble wrap was originally intended to be wallpaper

Your morning start for Monday, Oct. 26, 2020

BC Liberal Party Shuswap candidate Greg Kyllo and wife Georgina celebrate another successful campaign, with preliminary results for the 42nd provincial general election showing Greg winning the riding with a comfortable majority. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap’s Greg Kyllo faces third term and BC NDP majority

BC NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren celebrates party’s success

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

BC Liberal Party Shuswap candidate Greg Kyllo and wife Georgina celebrate another successful campaign, with preliminary results for the 42nd provincial general election showing Greg winning the riding with a comfortable majority. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
BC Liberal Party Shuswap candidate Greg Kyllo and wife Georgina celebrate another successful campaign, with preliminary results for the 42nd provincial general election showing Greg winning the riding with a comfortable majority. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
BC Election 2020: Preliminary results show BC Liberal Greg Kyllo winning third term as Shuswap MLA

Kyllo expressed gratitude to voters and supporters as results rolled in on Oct. 24

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Game Cave’s owner, Trevor Sparreboom, is a self-described “hardcore video game collector.” (Jesse Day - Western News)
Gamers flock to new retro video game shop in Penticton

‘It’s like candy land for gamers,’ said one loyal customer

While Revelstoke has one of the oldest bear awareness societies in the province, the city has yet to implement a community wide bear-proof garbage system. (Submitted)
Saving bears: Revelstoke’s garbage dilemma

More than 400 bears have been killed in the city since 1986

Multiple motor vehicle incidents stalled traffic between Kelowna and Vernon on Highway 97 after a morning snowfall Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Pam Wiebe Brunsdon - Facebook)
Slick roads on Monday commute around Vernon

Several accidents have been reported stalling highway traffic

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

Kelowna Secondary School. (SD23 photo)
One case of COVID-19 identified at Kelowna Secondary School

Interior Health will follow up directly with those who may have been exposed to the virus

BC NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu offered praise to her team of volunteers (pictured Oct. 21), following a too-close race with BC Liberal and incumbent Eric Foster in the 2020 provincial election Oct. 24. The outcome will be dependent on the final count from mail-in ballots expected in three weeks. (Facebook)
‘Every vote counts’ in tight Vernon-Monashee race: NDP Harwinder Sandhu

Incumbent BC Liberal Eric Foster finishes election night with slim lead

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO)
UPDATE: One dead after Highway 97A crash near Armstrong, police watchdog investigating

The crash happened as RCMP attempted to stop an alleged stolen vehicle

Most Read