Autumn is a beautiful time of year.
The cycle of life elaborately paints itself in vibrant hues of yellows and reds, allowing decay to bring forth change and new life.
It’s at the helm of change that our community has the privilege to be surrounded by abundant wildlife.
Each Autumn, the Quinsam River fills with spawning salmon, creating a buffet-like opportunity for a multitude of different species to feed. Gulls, herons, eagles, and bears all use the river as a feeding ground. Fishermen line the riverbank, honing their craft and striving to catch one of the spawning salmon.
All of this action, along with the beautiful autumn colours allows for unique photographic opportunities.
The main event for the many photographers along the Quinsam River is the feeding black bear. The bears use the salmon as a staple of their diet as they fatten up for the winter’s hibernation. As the bears scour along the river for salmon they are often followed by flocks of photographers, who aim to get the elusive shot of a bear catching a fish.
Although the actions of the photographer may seem harmless, often the bears are noticeably bothered.
Displaying signs of agitation, a bear will pop its jaw, grumble in a low tone, or even lay its ears back.
Either the photographers get too close to the feeding bears or they make a great deal of noise in the photographic process.
These actions disrupt the bear’s feeding, putting both the bear and the photographer in a dangerous situation.
Even while the bears remain well-nourished, they still are wild animals that require space and respect. Assuming you can treat each encounter as the last is not good practice. Each bear harbours a different personality, which can alter the way they deal with stress.
It is our duty as a part of the outdoor community to keep ourselves safe while respecting the bears in their environment. As photographers, we should maintain a safe distance. We should allow the bears to go about their day without a swarm of people photographing their every move. The bears make our Quinsam River ecosystem unique.
When we encroach on their space, we disrespect the natural order of the ecosystem, putting stress on every species that shares the bounty of the river.
Liam Mcilvenna, Campbell River