Study shows black bears need a variety of salmon species to be healthy

A black bear catches a fish in this undated handout photo. A new study shows that black bears need different species of salmon rather than huge numbers of them in a short period to be healthy. Christina Service who is the lead author of the study and a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria says it is the equivalent of humans going to an all-you-can-eat buffet for just a couple of days versus having one good meal a day for many months.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - April Bencze

VANCOUVER - A new study by Canadian researchers shows that black bears need different species of salmon rather than huge numbers of them in a short period to be healthy.

Lead author Christina Service says it is the equivalent of humans going to an all-you-can-eat buffet for just a couple of days versus having one good meal a day for many months.

The PhD candidate from the University of Victoria says if bears have access to a portfolio of different salmon species, then they have access to more and better food for a longer period of the year.

The team of researchers used chemical techniques on hair samples from black bears to estimate their salmon consumption, which showed population productivity and health.

They studied animals across a 22,000-kilometre stretch along coastal British Columbia's "Great Bear Rainforest," in collaboration with the Wuikinuxv, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk and Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nations.

Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nation Chief Councillor and study collaborator Douglas Neasloss says he is concerned that the federal government's current salmon management focuses on large salmon runs and often ignores smaller runs that contribute to diversity.


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