Emerging from the den

Notes from the Field - A conservation update from the Great Bear RainforestOur spring field season has arrived and is led by Dr. Chris Darimont, Raincoast Director of Science

by Chris Darimont

Possessing only a rudimentary knowledge of gravity, delicate little claws for braking, and pure trust in their momma, brand new grizzly cubs are slip-sliding their way down snowfields this month as they emerge from their high-altitude dens.

Just how many of these adorable little puffballs pop out and greet the Great Bear Rainforest, however, remains to be seen. It depends not just on the severity of last winter or how romantic their parents were in June, but on how many salmon their moms ate the previous fall.

Will hope ‘spring’ eternal for grizzlies this season, or will it be another desperate year on a coast that owes the bears its name?

This question means more to me now than ever. I’ve been blessed with my own ‘cub’ this spring (our first). My partner, Alison (aka ‘Momma Bear’), and I were fortunate; we had access to abundant and high quality foods throughout our pregnancy. Maëlle emerged from the womb happy and healthy. The same may not be true for the bears.

Chris Darimont & family prepare for the field season in the Great Bear

My family will travel with me and the Raincoast team to the Great Bear this week. We will embark on the second year of what we believe to be the most important applied conservation work on the coast: counting bears and cubs, and assessing their health in an era of dwindling salmon runs.

Our work is more urgent than ever. At the policy level, we are pushing forward meaningful changes to salmon harvest regulations that now allocate only a tiny amount of salmon to bears and other wild creatures. Plus, our work provides evidence-based arguments for abandoning the grizzly bear trophy hunt.

These gains — if they come — will be the result in large part of our outreach efforts, which have inspired more and more British Columbians to care about the future of wild salmon and the non-human animals who depend on them.

I ask you to join us this spring. Follow our new blog. Drop us an email. And consider helping us help the cubs of the coast. Your donation, however modest, could lead to something invaluable. Consider it an investment in grizzly cubs for future generations like Maëlle’s to appreciate, enjoy and respect.

For the bears and salmon,



You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.