Shiretoko Brown Bears are Starving: Cubs Dying

Shiretoko Brown Bears are Starving: Cubs Dying

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

In 2005, the Shiretoko area was designated by UNESCO. Accordingly, this area became a World Heritage Site. UNESCO had hoped that Shiretoko and the Kuril Islands (Russian Federation) would jointly become a transboundary “World Heritage Peace Park.”

The above never materialized. However, for the brown bears of Shiretoko, the only important factor is survival.

Sadly, with a poor crop of acorns and pink salmon being in sharp decline in the last two years, the knock-on effect is starvation.

Hence, 70% to 80% of all brown bear cubs have died from starvation.

The area where pink salmon should be flowing caters to roughly 500 brown bears. Accordingly, the brown bears are searching desperately.

In 2012, pink salmon also didn’t return to the rivers of Shiretoko. This also created starvation. Therefore, conservationists know the problem exists.

Estuaries are a natural hunting ground for brown bears – when pink salmon swim upstream (August to early October). This is followed by eating acorns and other food sources in the mountains before hibernation. However, the crop of acorns is also poor this year.

The dire situation entails that brown bear cubs are dying from starvation in horrendously high numbers.

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