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How Gold Rush Has Been Terrible For The Local Wildlife

One of the biggest (and perhaps most justifiable) criticisms of Discovery's gold-mining reality series "Gold Rush" concerns the incredible amount of damage that the series does to the environment. According to Earthworks, mining enough gold for a single wedding ring can produce up to 20 tons of waste, and the process of gold mining itself can poison nearby drinking water with mercury and cyanide.

This immense environmental devastation is inherent to the gold-mining business as a whole, and "Gold Rush" is no exception. The series' glorification of this environmentally destructive business has received a slew of well-deserved criticism over the years, including in 2017 when the residents of Park County, Colorado, even took legal action, alleging noise pollution and the misuse of Park County land (via Summit Daily).

Another way that "Gold Rush" wreaks havoc on the environment is the way that gold mining negatively affects the wildlife surrounding their dig sites. One species in particular seems to have suffered more than most.

Gold Rush has a history of killing black bears

Throughout the 12 seasons that "Gold Rush" has been on the air, at least five black bears have been killed by cast members or members of their gold-mining crews. In Season 1, Episode 2, the crew appears to needlessly kill a black bear when it wanders too close to their mine (via Fox News). Though the miner who killed the bear does have a hunting license, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources claimed the killing was unnecessary and urged the crew to be more responsible in the future.

In 2018, Derek Dodge Mining Corp., the company of "Gold Rush" cast member Derek Dodge, paid a $3,500 fee for illegally killing a black bear, not reporting it to authorities, and allowing said bear's pelt to go to waste. According to CBC News, four black bears in total were killed at Dodge's mining camp in 2016, though he only faced charges for one of those killings.

On top of these black bear killings, it's possible that the team's gold mining has also had a negative impact on the black bear's food source: salmon. Suction dredge mining (which is employed on spin-off "Gold Rush: White Water") has been shown to destroy salmon habitats and spawning gravel and even suck up and kill fish by accident (via Center for Biological Diversity). Regardless of the effect that "Gold Rush" has on the environment as a whole, the show has certainly had a profoundly negative effect on the black bears that they share the land with.