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

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 the 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 per cent 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 Ministry of Forests.

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 watchman 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 on 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

Just Posted

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Nanaimo’s Joanne Secord is a quarterfinalist in Inked Magazine’s Cover Model Search contest. (Janayh Wright Photography)
50-year-old Vancouver Island mom hopes her tattoos will earn a magazine cover shoot

Nanaimo’s Joanne Secord on cusp of semifinals in Inked Magazine contest

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia
DeMeer: And Then There Were None opened my eyes to books

What book knocked your booties off when you were young?

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

One of the approximately 1,200 street lights within the city of Parksville that will be changed to 3000 Kelvin LED under BC Hydro’s Streetlight Replacement Project. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville to go ahead with 3000K streetlights for BC Hydro project

Concerns about excessive brightness and resident privacy raised

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

LaRae Richards loads an order for deliver via Uber Eats Wednesday afternoon at Red Onion Burgers in Mountlake Terrace on May 17, 2017.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Uber Eats service area expands to Saanich Peninsula

Delivery platform launched in Victoria in 2018

OrcaFest parade 2019. (North Island Gazette file photo)
COVID-19: Port McNeill’s annual OrcaFest cancelled again

“We promise you that once we are safely able to do so, OrcaFest will be back!!”

Matt Simpson at the Chemainus Ball Park where he spent a lot of his development time over the years. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Cool transition to college baseball in Wisconsin for Island ballplayer

Chemainus baseball product anxious to get going after last season lost due to COVID

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

(Black Press file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Wexford Creek home in Nanaimo declared over

Social visits resume at south Nanaimo facility today, Feb. 27, says Island Health

Most Read