Bear and salmon research in Heiltsuk Territory

This progress report provides a 2013 update for the Salmon Carnivore project – a study that looks at the relationship between bear health and salmon abundance – being undertake with the Heiltsuk in their traditional territory of BC’s Great Bear Rainforest.

Download 2013 Salmon Carnivore Project Update

Three seasons of bear research-cover

Important findings in this report include:

  •  Cortisol, an important hormone associated with general long-term stress levels, decreased as salmon consumption increased in grizzly bears, suggesting stress from poor salmon years was physiological and directly related to limitation of a critical food source (pg 12)
  • In black bears, cortisol was more related to total salmon availability (amount of salmon in the area streams, as opposed to salmon actually eaten), suggesting competition among bears over poor salmon returns might be causing greater stress than starvation (pg 12)
  • In both grizzlies and black bears, testosterone, an important hormone related to aggression and competition, decreased in years with high salmon returns, suggesting that these years corresponded with less competition among bears. (pg 12)
  • Our analyses compared the distribution of government-modeled spring habitat across the territory to distribution and relative abundance of grizzly bears detected from our field work. While number of detected grizzlies and modeled habitat suitability are different metrics, the government’s estimates of grizzly populations are based on modeled habitat suitability (pg 10) … Some important discrepancies were noted. Of highest concern, government models only predicted medium densities of high quality bear habitat in the Koeye/Nootum landscape unit, whereas our study has detected a high density of bears (pg 10).


Become a Raincoaster

Monthly giving enables you to protect what you love. For 25 years, Raincoast has been furthering biodiversity conservation in BC. We have big plans and with your help we will: 

  • End commercial trophy hunting of large carnivores in the Great Bear Rainforest.
  • Acquire land in order to protect threatened Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems.
  • Support the recovery of endangered Southern Resident killer whales by restoring Chinook salmon habitat, and so much more.
Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
Chris Genovali, Executive Director

Protecting biodiversity is the most important gift we can give the next generation. Join us as a Raincoaster today!