View topic - Grizzly bears have taken up residence on Vancouver Island

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PostPosted: May 21st, 2008, 11:54 am 
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[url] http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolo ... 3e72c0b8fb
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I was one of the people who previously took comfort in the fact that grizzlybears were only on the mainland --- until now, it used to be a well known fact that there were only the smaller and much less aggressive black bears on the island. No more.

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PostPosted: May 21st, 2008, 1:02 pm 
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Why were there no grizzlies on the island? Was there a resident population of griz before europeans settled there and they were maybe hunted out?

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PostPosted: May 21st, 2008, 1:07 pm 
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I don't think there ever were grizzlies on the island. I'm not sure why, its just always been a well known fact that there weren't. Some people, like a fellow I correspond with who writes guidebooks for kayakers (John Kimantas) said they've seen them from time to time there but nobody really believed them --- till now.

It's actually not THAT far for a griz to swim from the mainland if they cross north of Courtenay and south of Telegraph Cove --- the Broughtons. They'd have to make several channel crossings, and at times the current rips through there pretty good, but the channels are not really THAT wide, and there are slack periods.

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PostPosted: May 21st, 2008, 5:31 pm 
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Seems like every couple of years another one swims over.

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PostPosted: May 21st, 2008, 5:48 pm 
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Location: Eckville, Alberta Canada
Hi,
the true reason there are no grizz on the island is contained in the following local legend here in town.

Found just south of the 50th parallel entering Campbell River, is 30 foot high rock which could be a remnant of the Ice Age. But one legend has it that a boastful grizzly bear turned to stone after not heeding the Great Spirits advice and just failing to complete his attempt to jump from the mainland to Vancouver Island.The tide was high and his back foot touched the water and as the Great Spirit warned the bear turned to stone.

Anyone who has been to town and seen the rock knows he was one huge bear. :P

Larry


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PostPosted: May 21st, 2008, 5:48 pm 
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Like John (Kimantas, "The Wild Coast") said, one or two bears is not a sustainable population. If there's only a few, they won't find each other to mate, and so will end up just foraging around a bit and then probably leaving and going back to the mainland or getting shot.
I'm wondering if the locals will start shooting them on sight so as to keep the island griz-free.
There really is a big difference between black bears and the griz.

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PostPosted: May 21st, 2008, 5:58 pm 
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Yeah, it was a big bear. I like the myth about how the tides started --- something about how the raven tricked a huge stone giant into repeatedly standing up and sitting down, and this is what causes the tides.

I think this is the traditional Kwakwaka'wakw symbol intended to convey the message,

Image

"There's something wrong with that oolichan grease, Bro ..."

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PostPosted: May 21st, 2008, 6:27 pm 
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Quote:
it used to be a well known fact that there were only the smaller and much less aggressive black bears on the island.

I was sure I read an atricle in a bowhunting magazine a few years back about there being brown bears on the Island. The one in the article was BIG........ !

Would that have been a lone brown that made the swim from the mainland?


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PostPosted: May 21st, 2008, 6:40 pm 
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I guess it could have been. Apparantly there was a griz shot near Port Hardy in 2003 --- that came as a huge surprise to me. Until just now when I read the article in the Victoria Times Colonist, I'd just assumed that stories of grizzlies on Van Isle were just bullsh*t. I guess not.

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PostPosted: May 22nd, 2008, 1:29 pm 
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Grizzlies are open country bears. With the alpine in the interior of the island, I would not be surprised to find them in the vicinity of the Golden Hind. Although grizzlies are potentially more aggressive than black bears, any habituated bear is most dangerous, and these are usually black bears. The latter tend to be more difficult to predict. Grizzlies will defend, but blacks have sometimes been known to attack humans as predators.


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PostPosted: May 22nd, 2008, 1:43 pm 
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Thats interesting, Erich.

I'm really pro-wildlife, and even if it means we lose the odd bear-feeding moron, I think our existence here on this planet is endlessly enriched by continuing to share it with these animals.

Just out of curiosity --- which do you think is more dangerous? A habituated black bear or a habituated grizz?

;)

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PostPosted: May 22nd, 2008, 2:23 pm 
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Good question, Tom. The bigger the habituated bear, the more dangerous. By habituated, I mean those that are not just used to humans being around, but those that associate humans with food. As a cinematographer, I shot several bear shows. On one, we were in McNeil River Bear Sanctuary in Alaska. Great place, lots of Alaska Brown Bears, boars and sows with cubs. There has never been a negative human-bear encounter there. The sows with cubs were like cows in a field, munching on the salt marsh grass. We even had a cub approach to within perhaps ten feet from us before we scared it back to its mom. We never felt threatened there. Plenty of food for the bears, and they are very big. Conversely, on that same shoot, we went to Denali to film the Toklat Grizzlies. Much smaller, hardly bigger than a good sized black bear. Yet, because food was scarce, I felt more threatened by them, than the bears at McNeil River.

With any wild animal, the key thing to remember, especially with carnivores or omnivores, is their job in the ecosystem is to survive. They have thousands of years of evolution adapting them to eat certain foods, certain prey. Grizzlies have long claws for digging. An animal that is injured, unable to hunt well, or finding that food is scarce, will start to look elsewhere to survive. This is when you must be careful as possible prey. But the key is to remember that the animal has an instinct for survival. If it feels that it could be severely injured in the encounter, it will not attack unless threatened. There are always exceptions, but understanding critters helps to assess your potential for possible encounters.


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PostPosted: May 22nd, 2008, 3:03 pm 
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Yeah, thats what I've always thought --- that bear behaviour is just a bunch of survival instincts with very little (if any) frontal lobe, "rational" behaviour, so they'll "go with the flow" in almost any situation. The "flow" meaning what their genetic programming tells them to do.

Also, I saw a documentary which described the bear's abilities to smell as several times more acute than a bloodhound's dense of smell --- and bloodhounds are amazing, in fact they can locate a human cadaver under 50 feet of water. If bears' sense of smell is better than a bloodhounds, you BETTER keep your food prep area well away from your sleeping tent.

Last season I opened a can of sardines and spilled some juice on my coat --- at the time I thought, "Hmmm, I don't want to wear this to bed". Maybe I should've burned it...

edit:

I don't know hjow valid this is, but I've always figured that I was relatively safe during late summer, simply by staying away from river estuaries where nature's biggest & best 'free lunch' (spawning salmon) is in progress.

I figured that by sticking to small, river-free islets during late June/July/August not only would I avoid the biting flies which require fresh, standing water for their early stages, but I'd also avoid the bears who're all hanging around the creeks and streams waiting for the salmon --- is this a valid tactic?

further edit:
I'm amazed at how similar to people that bears are --- in particular how hugely varied they are in their behaviour towards people. I chuckled to my self all day after running into a black bear once, near Port Hardy --- as soon as it saw me it took off like a bat out of hell, like it was absolutely terrified of me. Other times I've actually had them kind of stalk me, walking quietly and staying in cover.

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Mariners must navigate these waters the same way a mouse negotiates a kitchen patrolled by cats: by darting furtively from one hiding place to the next.
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PostPosted: April 18th, 2009, 10:08 pm 
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It is worth asuming you can't read them. It's fun to learn their behaviour, but that's a whole different thing from thinking you know what will happen next. If you are near them, time spent thinking about what you will do in various scenarios, is probably better spent than trying to figure what they will do.


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PostPosted: April 20th, 2009, 5:19 pm 
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Thanks for the link. I find cougars more unnerving than bears, especially when I have kids around.


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