On Haida Gwaii Black bears hibernate for 4-6 months each winter and emerge from their dens in April or May. At that time they usually head for the estuaries to feed on sedges and greens. They also eat stinging nettle, fireweed, horsetail, various rushes, ferns, cow parsnip, Pacific hemlock parsley, beach lovage and skunk cabbage.

Being omnivorous—bears will eat vegetable or animal substances—they are often seen foraging the shoreline for rock crabs, sea urchins, beach hoppers and have been known to dig clams and strip mussels and barnacles from rocks.

Between June and August as the green vegetation tapers off berries become more important to their diet and remain so until October. At that time they move to the spawning streams and fatten up on salmon prior to hibernation. It is estimated that bears derive 70 per cent of their annual protein from salmon during the +/- 45 days of the spawn.

Most bears den in large hollow trees or stumps, particularly old growth red and yellow cedar trees. The best den habitat is in old forest with large cedar trees in the vicinity of marine estuaries or low elevation wetlands that grow spring forage.

Black bears breed in the spring shortly after coming out of the den. Even if bred the female bear will only gestate if she has accumulated enough fat. If she does, the young are born in the den during January. The fat and protein content of the bear’s milk is very high, so cubs grow rapidly. Litter size varies from 1 to 5 young, 2 or 3 are most common. The newborns weigh only 200-450 grams but by the time they are ready to emerge from the den they weigh from 2-5 kilograms. They remain with their mother through the first season and the next hibernation period. In the 6 to 8 months that bears are not hibernating, they must obtain all their food requirements for survival, reproduction and growth.

Today, it is not known how many bears there are on the Islands. But since 1977 over 975 bears have been killed by recreational hunters. This figure does not include "problem bears" killed by Conservation Officers. The business of killing bears for sport and trophies is becoming more established on the Islands with the establishment of the Tlell River Lodge as a base of operations.

In 1995 the Council of the Haida Nation called for an end to recreational bear hunting on Haida Gwaii and on February 4th, 2004, Guujaaw, President, Council of the Haida Nation reiterated this position.

A bear den in roots of an ancient red cedar. This den is located at Jiinanaga, Haida Gwaii.

Tlell River Lodges' parent company homepage.
Email address of the bear hunting licence owners.
Haida Gwaii Black bears killed by trophy hunters,

and another set.
A table documenting Bears killed since 1976.
Bears' Life
A short backgrounder on the lifecycle of a Black bear.
Bear Fat Makes the Best Biscuits
An article about the bear hunting licence transfer and trophy hunting on Haida Gwaii.
TERRITORY - an article about a Bear art show in Queen Charlotte.
TERRITORY - an article about the show in Masset.
Examples of art from the show TERRITORY.
Do Bears Fish in the Woods?
An article about the bear / fish interaction on the coast of British Columbia.