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

Highway closed near Moyie due to vehicle incident, according to Drive BC.
Highway 3/95 near Moyie closed due to vehicle incident

Highway 3/95 east of Moyie is closed in both directions due to… Continue reading

Courtesy of the Kitsap Public Health District
My Covid test: A report from the front lines

Contrary to popular belief, they don’t ram the swab deep into your brain

(File image)
Kootenay East election: The drama will take days — a look at the numbers

It’s an unprecedented election for unprecedented times. Accordingly, unprecedented patterns of voter… Continue reading

Top row, left to right: Tom Shypitka, BC Liberals; Wayne Stetski, BC NDP; Kerri Wall; BC Green Party. Bottom row, left to right: Samson Boyer, BC Green Party; Nicole Cherlet; BC NDP; Doug Clovechok; BC Liberals. (Compiled by Barry Coulter)
Candidates’ messages: Kootenay East and Columbia River Revelstoke

The Townsman offered each candidate - in Kootenay East and Columbia River Revelstoke - space to hold forth on issues important to them and to voters.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read