Bear Essentials – Must Read

Bear Essentials – Must Read
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Bear Aware in British Columbia

BC has some of the largest and most untouched landscapes in the world. Even viewed from the tops of isolated peaks, these habitats will often stretch as far as the horizon. With these vast and breathtaking landscapes come an abundance of wildlife, with a few animals in particular that you should be aware of.

That said, if you stick to the busy tourist routes, you’re unlikely to see many of the animals listed below, simply because almost all the wildlife really doesn’t care to meet you or your friends. Given some warning of your presence, wildlife will usually try to avoid you. Confrontations with wildlife tend to happen when you catch them off guard, where they may feel threatened or cornered.

For this reason you’ll be much safer if you stick with others. Groups will always make more noise and therefore give better warning to wildlife that you are approaching. They’ll most likely run away if they hear you coming. Many hikers in BC wear a small bell on their backpack, whilst others just make sure they talk, sing, clap occasionally etc as well as always carrying bear spray.

For more information on what to pack when hiking, see our responsible hiking guide.

BC has some of the largest and most untouched landscapes in the world. Even viewed from the tops of isolated peaks, these habitats will often stretch as far as the horizon. With these vast and breathtaking landscapes come an abundance of wildlife, with a few animals in particular that you should be aware of.

That said, if you stick to the busy tourist routes, you’re unlikely to see many of the animals listed below, simply because almost all the wildlife really doesn’t care to meet you or your friends. Given some warning of your presence, wildlife will usually try to avoid you. Confrontations with wildlife tend to happen when you catch them off guard, where they may feel threatened or cornered.

For this reason you’ll be much safer if you stick with others. Groups will always make more noise and therefore give better warning to wildlife that you are approaching. They’ll most likely run away if they hear you coming. Many hikers in BC wear a small bell on their backpack, whilst others just make sure they talk, sing, clap occasionally etc as well as always carrying bear spray.

For more information on what to pack when hiking, see our responsible hiking guide.

Black Bears

Black bears are smaller than their grizzly cousins, and have a longer, snouty nose. They don’t actively look for confrontation, but will defend their cubs or territory if they feel threatened. If you see one at a distance, chances are it couldn’t care less so don’t try and approach it. If you meet one closer up, stand tall and together, look directly at the bear, but don’t approach it. Keep calm and move slowly; moving quickly will only panic the bear. You want the bear to know that your big, numerous, not scared, but equally not a threat. If the bear does nothing, then don’t risk a confrontation, be patient and wait for it to move on before continuing on your way. If the bear comes towards you, make plenty of noise whilst looking directly at it. It’s rare that a black bear encounter reaches this point.

If the bear has cubs, then make it clear of your intentions to leave by walking clearly but slowly away from it.

Grizzly Bear

If you want to see Grizzlies in a safe environment, go and say hi to the orphaned and rescued Grizzlies at Grouse Mountain (30 mins from downtown Vancouver). Grizzlies are much bigger than black bears, and that the more traditional teddy bear look to them.

If you happen to meet a grizzly whilst you’re hiking, you should adopt a submissive, non-threatening manner as they are likely to react aggressively to provocation. Advice varies from site to site but generally your objective is to leave the way you came, quietly, calmly but without turning your back to the bear. Here’s a textbook example of a Grizzly bear encounter, where the camera man is somewhat unlucky that the cubs inquisitiveness keeps the mum following for so long.

Cougar

Cougars are rare and elusive. They are shy and only hunt small, lonesome animals.

Other Animals

The rest of BCs wildlife is largely non-threatening to humans, but still worth being mindful of. Moose and large deer are not something you want to pick a fight with, so keep your distance and don’t panic them.

Bear Spray

Bear spray is a last resort deterrent to defend from an approaching bear. Equivalent to a super strength pepper spray, the bear spray is effective up to 2 or 3 metres. It is important to stress that the bear spray is a last resort; your best option is to avoid them altogether.

Resources

Check out he BC parks website.

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