While co-leading a recent workshop in the southern Great Bear Rainforest this past September, I learned something new.
A grizzly bear searching (and digging) for rice roots at Glendale Cove (near Knight Inlet), accessed from Vancouver Island.
Did you know rice roots are high in carbohydrates and protein for grizzly bears and they spend hours digging through the soil to find those special roots. Rice roots grow in most open places near the coast, including meadows, open forests, streambanks, immediately along shorelines and in estuaries and salt marshes.
Grizzlies eat the same roots the indigenous peoples harvested in the past. They usually harvested small rice like bulblets and replanted the larger “grandmother” bulb. The bulbs provided an important source of sugar and starch and were often eaten with eulachon oil or grease. Changes in access to and degradation of traditional harvest areas have limited use of this food in recent years.