Salmon, Grizzly Bears Lead Cascading West Coast Species Collapse

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Coast-Wide Grizzly Bear Die-Off Documented in Great Bear Rainforest:
Multi-Year Salmon Collapse to Blame
by Pacific Wild          
BELLA BELLA, B.C.  - North coast conservationists and bear viewing operators are urging both the Federal and Provincial governments to take immediate action as alarming evidence emerges on B.C.'s salmon creeks and rivers that north coast grizzlies, including females and cubs, have died off in significant numbers.
 
"DFO has once again ignored conservation concerns and permitted overfishing in area 6 on the BC North Coast.  The Gill island fishery should have ensured that more salmon passed through to spawning grounds. Instead over six million Pink salmon were intercepted by nets, in addition to tens of thousands of Sockeye, Chum and Coho during the last openings," stated Ian McAllister of the BC-based wildlife conservation group, Pacific Wild. "The few bears surviving this past winter really needed those fish."
 
According to DFO records, the BC North Coast has endured four years of extremely low Chum salmon returns. Chum are the mainstay salmon species for grizzlies.  Bears target Chum salmon specifically because they have a high fat content, last a long time in the fresh water environment and are large in size.
 
"Four years of depressed Chum salmon runs have had a disproportionate impact on coastal grizzlies and their ecosystem, and are having a devastating impact on the coast," stated Fred Seiler with the Terrace-based Silvertip Ecotours. "This should be a huge red flag for DFO and the Provincial Wildlife Branch but they continue to manage British Columbia's salmon fishery in a total state of denial. Even as we speak they are still considering more openings when not enough fish have returned to the rivers."
 
Bear viewing guides, DFO creek walkers and many others with direct knowledge of the status of grizzlies in BC watersheds have observed disturbingly few grizzlies feeding on Pink and Coho and recorded very few sightings of cubs. They all agree this is NOT an isolated incident and point to last year's unusually long and cold winter coupled with collapsed salmon stocks.
 
"I have not observed a single mother and cub-of-the-year in our traditional territory,"  stated Douglas Neasloss, Kitasoo-Xaixais bear viewing guide. "We are extremely concerned about the status of our bears right now."
 
We call upon the Federal Department of Fisheries and B.C. Premier Campbell to take the following measures immediately:

1)  CLOSE all Chum salmon fishing openings or fisheries that may incidentally target the species on the central and northern British Columbian coast

2)  CANCEL the September 10th opening of the fall grizzly bear trophy hunt. 

3)  CONSULT immediately with all bear viewing guides, First Nations, DFO creek walkers, Guardian Watchmen and other personnel directly engaged with our BC coastal rivers to assess the cumulative damage to wildlife and habitat.
 
"The apparent loss of so many bears should be an immediate and priority concern for both levels of government. The collapse of the Fraser sockeye and now the north coast Chum salmon is leading to ecological collapse of our coastal ecosystem - and no species is feeling this threat more than our coastal grizzly bears,"  warned Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild.
 
 
 
 
MEDIA RELEASE
SEPT 08, 2009       
For Immediate Release 
 
Contacts:

Ian McAllister - Conservation Director, Pacific Wild
Phone 250-957-2480 and Cell Phone 250-882-7246
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and www.pacificwild.org
 
Fred Seiler, Silvertip Ecotours
Phone 250-635-9326  email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Doug Neasloss, Kitasoo-Xaixais Bear Viewing Guide
Phone: 250-839-2360 
 
 
 

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