If you walk along a river near Tacoma, you might find dead salmon. And frequently, a predator like a bear has eaten some or all of the salmon.

It turns out that bears often prefer the eggs, brain and dorsal musculature (Reimchen 2000) due to the high energy content they provide. According to the National Park Service:

If you see bears only eating the skin, brains, and eggs of a salmon, they are practicing good energy economics. At these times, a bear’s profit margin in calories is so high that it can ignore some excess fish. As a bear fills up on salmon, it can “afford” to not eat certain parts of the fish. This behavior has been nicknamed “high-grading.” Like miners looking for high-grade ore, bears try to consume high grade fat.

A large brown bear in Katmai N.P.

Considering 2021 is a year when Pink Salmon return in Puget Sound, you might observe preferential feeding on the carcasses. On the White River, we know over 450,000 Pinks were passed around the dam.

If visiting a stream to look at salmon spawning sounds interesting, here’s one a little bit outside of Tacoma: a small restoration site on Boise creek near Enumclaw. It’s a tributary of the White River.

Here’s a video from 2011:

2011 Salmon return to Lower Boise Creek, a White River tributary from King County DNRP on Vimeo.

Lower Boise Creek Restoration Site:

The restoration site is just south of Enumclaw High School, where SE Mud Mountain Road meets WA 410.