Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and salmon

In recent email Jim Robertson wrote the following (see below). It was so interesting I decided to post it (with his kind permission). My, but he has some great photographs!

Ralph Maughan

I witnessed a couple of wolves (two females from a pack of eight) join in on the
action at Fish Creek near Hyder, AK in 2001. It was the fist year that
wolves had been seen fishing in that area. They turned out to be better at
it than either the black bears or grizzlies who had fished that spawning
stream for years.

While the black bears would wait along the banks and make a lunge for a
salmon when they got a good fix on one, and the grizzlies would wade up into
a school and herd the fish into the shallows, the wolves would stand in the
middle of the creek and watch intently for a likely target. Their vision
was clearly better than the bears’ and they went after the fish with much
more accuracy. Nothing hap-hazard about their efforts.

They made sport of chasing the black bears off and liked to test the
grizzlies, but one playful yearling grizzly did send them running for a
minute.

Here are some of my photos of the wolves fishing at Hyder:

http://www.all-creatures.org/aw/wolves-046.html
http://www.all-creatures.org/aw/wolves-029.html
http://www.all-creatures.org/aw/wolves-034.html
http://www.all-creatures.org/aw/wolves-037.html
http://www.all-creatures.org/aw/wolves-005.html
http://www.all-creatures.org/aw/wolves-006.html
from my wolf page
http://www.all-creatures.org/aw/wolves.html

and here’s some grizzly photos:
http://www.all-creatures.org/aw/grizzly.html

It seems likely that wolves could take advantage of the bounty of salmon
spawning streams more often, if they felt they were in a protected area like
Katmai. Sadly, the bear viewing area at Hyder is closed to hunting bears,
but not wolves. That winter some or all of that wolf pack were killed by
locals. Now the only sign of them is a hand made sign on a power pole
advertising wolf hides for sale. There would be a lot more wolves around
Katmai if it weren’t for trapping. The first year I visited there (1978), I
heard that a pack of 7 resident wolves were trapped when they wandered
outside the park boundaries the previous winter.

Luckily for grizzlies, most of the trapping goes on after they’ve gone into
hibernation.

Jim Robertson
wolfcrest@hotmail.com
www.animalsinthewild.com

3 Responses to “Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and salmon”

  1. Buffaloed Says:

    A wolf that I saw several years ago in Idaho ended up dying from eating salmon on the South Fork of the Salmon River. It died from “salmon poisoning” also known as Neorickettsia helminthoeca which only kills canines. Don’t feed your dog uncooked fish.

    http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/ClientED/salmon.asp

  2. Buffaloed Says:

    BTW, nice photo’s

  3. Ralph Maughan Says:

    I wonder why these Alaskan wolves don’t get Neorickettsia helminthoeca?


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