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 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

A GoFundMe page has been launched for a Vernon man whose BX orchard property home off Pleasant Valley Road near Stickle Road was totally destroyed in a fire Saturday, April 17. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Fundraising campaign launched for Vernon man who lost home to fire

A GoFundMe page has been started by family; man taken to hospital with injuries from fire

Armaan Dhaliwal hands a cheque for $500 to Shuswap Hospital Foundation president Angie Spencer as his proud grandparents Gordie and Nancy Dhaliwal watch on Friday, April 16. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm boy’s samosa sales benefit hospital foundation

Armaan Dhaliwal was able to give the Shuswap Hospital Foundation a $500 donation

School District 83 trustees are expected to be discussing the current Long Range Facilities Plan options at the April 20 school board meeting. (File photo)
Letter: Let the people have their say on Salmon Arm school options

Parent encourages School District 83 board to hold off on making a decision

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are locked in stiff competition with the Vernon Vipers and West Kelowna Warriors in their BCHL bubble. (File photo)
Salmon Arm Silverbacks adapting to packed pod season schedule

The team is locked in tough competition with the Vernon Vipers and West Kelowna Warriors.

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Firefighters battled a burning home on farmland in the north end of Vernon Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Homeowner taken to hospital after Vernon home destroyed by fire

Firefighters engaged in a lengthy battle against the engulfed structure Saturday afternoon

Members of the Okanagan Screen Arts Society received a cheque for $1,500 Thursday, April 15, 2021. The funds are to help the society’s efforts as they prepare take over operation of the Vernon Towne Cinema at the end of July. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Okanagan dealership gives local cinema a lift

Vernon Watkin Motor Ford, in business for more than 100 years, donated to the theatre with nearly as long a history

Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over in surgical unit of Vernon hospital

The outbreak affected four staff, 10 patients and led to three deaths in just over two weeks

A group of youth in Kelowna's Knox Mountain Park are suspected as having violated the B.C. Wildlife Act by harassing a pair of nesting bald eagles with a drone Friday, April 16, 2021. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Nesting bald eagles harassed by youth-piloted drone in Kelowna

Conservation Officers are hoping to hear from anyone who witnessed the Knox Mountain incident

Most Read