Grizzly Bears
(Photo : Rolf Hicker)
As the hibernation season comes, this family of grizzly bears are desperately looking for salmon to fatten themselves.

The salmon population has declined so much that a family of starved grizzly bears photographed near the shores of Canada's Knight Inlet is making hearts break online.

The Starving Bears

According to wildlife photographer Rolf Hicker, while not all grizzly bears he had seen were in really bad shape, the majority are definitely not healthy.

For instance, he had seen this mother bear with two cubs grow thinner in a span of two weeks, Hicker said as he explained the wildlife photograph he shared via Facebook on September 23. He also shared that he fears the mother bear will not make it through winter season, especially without a healthy supply of salmon which serves as their main source of nourishment.

Grizzly bears hibernate for five to seven months. Before that, they are supposed to fatten themselves during the summer and fall months, according to information from the National Park Service. Female bears in particular, need to have an especially higher fat percentage as it could affect her reproduction capability, according to Parks Canada.

They ate berries and plants, but they nourish themselves primarily with salmon. To find food, "some bears travel far away," Hicker said.

The bears have been appearing frequently on Swanson Island, which is at least an hour away from Knight Inlet. Rick Snowdon, the owner of the Spirit of the West, said that the bears are approaching their camps and they "definitely looked lightweight."

According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, around fifty percent of the total population of the country's grizzly bears can be found in British Columbia.

Saving the bears

The decline of the population is said to be caused by global warming. The salmon died from intense stress brought by frequent marine heatwaves and drought. According to the report of Fisheries and Oceans Canada released in August, the country is warming at least twice as fast compared to the global average.

Sadly, one of the victims of this phenomenon is a family of grizzly bears in Knight Inlet, a spot where tourists all over the world gather to watch the bears and admire the wildlife's robust activities.

The Mamalilikulla First Nation, who has been monitoring the bears for years, said that the bears are in trouble and that drastic changes within a couple of months need to be enforced if they are to be preserved.

To help them, the guarding watchman manager of Mamalilikulla First Nation, Jake Smith, arranged a rationing system, where 500 salmons donated by A-Tiegay Fisheries Society from Vancouver Island, would be put along the shorelines where bears would find them.

Smith claimed that the bears immediately saw the fish and pledged to continue monitoring them.

Declining Salmon

The declining population of salmon has been observed for years already, and in the past month, advocates for commercial fishing has requested for disaster relief to help the industry. They claimed that this was the "worst season in nearly 50 years."

The damaged was believed to be triggered not only by the increased global warming, but also by the prevalence of open-net fish farming. Biologist Alexandra Morton claimed that this type of farming exposes wild salmons to viruses from the wastes that the farms had thrown back to the ocean. This summer, in Alaska alone, more than a hundred salmons were killed as the water temperature rose up to 81 degrees Celsius.

For this, the British Columbia government was planning to completely stop the open-net fish farming by 2023 so that the salmon population could recover.