Grizzly bears spotted swimming from island to island are indicative of a bigger problem in British Columbia.
Grizzly bears spotted swimming are a source of recent worry to conservation experts, and may reveal a bigger problem that is forcing these animals to swim huge distances.
Grizzly bears have an excellent ability to swim but have rarely been seen doing it for long distances. Recently, with the sighting of a pair of grizzly bears swimming three miles off the north end of Vancouver Island by a conservation officer, widespread discussion has been sparked on possible causes.
University of Victoria associate professor and science director at Raincoast Conservation, Chris Darimont, had this to say about why the bears are moving to different territory and why it may be a warning sign:
“We should be paying attention to their arrival on islands. They have evolved the ability to swim for hundreds of thousands of years. That they have not colonized islands before in any huge way tells us that there is something up. They are now putting that swimming ability to use.”
Darimont also indicated this bear movement to new areas may be linked to the recent decline in salmon runs in British Columbia. “Bear populations tend to rise and fall with the abundance of salmon. We ought to be very careful, especially in light of other things we are doing to grizzly bear habitat,” he said n the report.
It has also been noted that some logging activities may play a role as it can trigger bears to move their dens to more secluded areas.
Whatever the catalyst is for grizzly movement out of traditional habitat and in some instances, swimming great distances to other islands, the B.C. Ministry of the Environment and bear experts will continue to monitor potential causes.