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A Fish Out of Water
18 x 14

Grizzly bears in the Pacific Northwest are heavily reliant on salmon as a food source, especially prior to winter hibernation where salmon make up about 60% of their diet. In recent years, the salmon population has plummeted due to overfishing and climate factors. Balancing the needs of bears and humans with regard to this resource is a slippery slope and one that requires the fundamentals of science and conservation for success.

More recently, conservationists are now working hand in hand with Indigenous tribes in parts of British Columbia to address this issue. It is a rare example of how ecosystem based management can steer the vital nuances of the bear/salmon/human relationship. By partnering on critical research now, the hope is to mitigate further decimation to populations of salmon and bears alike by reducing harvesting levels. This combined conservation ethic is one of the first of its kind in B.C.

Protecting salmon means protecting other keystone species such as eagles, otters, and orcas. Salmon are also critical to certain species of trees such as cedar, Douglas fir and Sitka spruce which glean about half of their nitrogen needs from the decaying bodies of salmon after a run, and in a form of symbiosis, the trees provide backwater cover for salmon eggs and fry.

 If climate change is to continue on its proposed trajectory, reducing human impact on salmon populations will be key to saving the wildlife and vegetation that depends on it.