B.C. First Nation feeds hungry grizzlies 500 salmon carcasses

‘I’m hoping it’s not too little too late,’ says Mamalilikulla First Nation chief councillor

The Mamalilikulla First Nation delivered salmon to grizzly bears in their traditional territories where they are known to feed. (File pictures/Canadian Press)

When Richard Sumner saw how emaciated the grizzly bears were in his neck of the woods, he knew something had to be done.

Sumner, chief councillor of the Mamalilikulla First Nation, says the creeks and streams on the nation’s territory, which  encompass the islands off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island between Alert Bay and Knight Inlet, are no longer rich with salmon, and resident bears are starving and travelling outside traditional hunting grounds in a desperate effort to find food.

So the Mamalilikulla people fed them.

The nation’s Guardian Watchmen Manager, Jake Smith, had a local hatchery donate approximately 500 salmon carcasses and members of the nation took the fish to estuary areas where grizzlies are known to feed.

“I’m hoping it’s not too little too late,” said Sumner in a phone interview on CBC’s On The Island, adding there are many other areas of British Columbia where bears that depend on salmon are hungry.

Migrating for meals

He said grizzlies are starting to travel between all the small islands in the area and are even making their way over to Vancouver Island in search of fish, something that rarely happened in the past.

“The lack of salmon is not a natural thing,” said Sumner, who blamed human activity such as deforestation and over-fishing for reducing salmon stocks to perilous levels.

Climate change resulting in warmer ocean temperatures has also been cited by marine scientists as a major factor in dwindling salmon stocks.

Sumner said while he understands humans should not interfere with wild animals, the Mamalilikulla people are the stewards of their territory and according to Sumner, the alternative was to watch the bears die.

“We just hope we can get enough bulk on them to last the winter,” said Sumner.

Some of the 400 members of the Mamalilikulla nation are suffering too.

“Nobody has any fish in their freezer or any canned fish for the winter,” he said. “It’s been a real disastrous year.”

Sumner does not know if more fish will be available for future deliveries.

Sumner said he is meeting Thursday with a bear biologist and provincial authorities to discuss the issue further.

To hear the complete interview with Richard Sumner, see the audio link below:

7 thoughts on “B.C. First Nation feeds hungry grizzlies 500 salmon carcasses

      • True, and to stop damming rivers and polluting waters. To lose our iconic fish would be a terrible tragedy. And to replace with what? More boring and dull humans and their stuff. Or another supposed ‘brilliant’ solution that sucks in comparison to the real thing.

  1. Even in this case, the grizzlies are getting what’s left over from the humans first take. But it’s better than nothing, I suppose. I don’t know how much is left on a carcass to feed a large animal like a grizzly.

    btw: after the spraying, some of the backyard birds have returned. It was really beginning to seem like the Silent Fall. On my back porch the other day, I had four different birds at once: a Carolina wren, a goldfinch, a phoebe and a tufted titmouse.

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