Observations of Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) associated with abundance of spawning Kokanee (Oncorhynchus nerka) at an inland river, British Columbia, Canada


  • Sage Raymond Thompson Rivers University, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Julius Strauss
  • Nancy Flood




Grizzly Bear, Ursus arctos, Oncorhynchus nerka, Animal Behaviour, Dietary Plasticity, Optimal Foraging Theory, Kokanee, Community Science


Salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) are an important food source for Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos), but many salmon populations are declining. While most research on Grizzly Bear–salmon interactions occurs in coastal ecosystems, declining salmon may also affect Grizzly Bears in inland ecosystems where salmon are also an important part of their diet. We document changes in the number and distribution of observations of Grizzly Bears and changing Kokanee (i.e., landlocked Sockeye Salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka) abundance at an inland river. We hypothesized that reduced abundance of Kokanee would limit the number of Grizzly Bear observations at the river. We compared Kokanee abundance and Grizzly Bear observations (n = 535) between 2012 and 2019 at the Lardeau River, British Columbia, Canada. We used a generalized linear mixed model to test if the number of bear observations changed as a function of Kokanee abundance among four river reaches during eight consecutive years of study. Kokanee abundance was a strong statistical predictor of Grizzly Bear observations (β = 0.52, P = 0.001, CI = 0.12–0.87), and Kokanee abundance and reach explained 73% of the variance. Our results suggest that reduced Kokanee abundance also reduces Grizzly Bear presence, likely because bears seek out other, more available food sources, away from Kokanee spawning habitat. This pattern could limit ecosystem services provided by Grizzly Bears adjacent to spawning areas and it could have implications for bear management and conservation.