The snow is starting to thaw here in Whistler and the bears are coming out of their hibernation. About 50 black bears emerge from their winter hibernation in Whistler and start looking for food, which unfortunately, can sometimes be a tourist’s lunch, putting both the tourist and the bear in grave danger. Be Bear Aware!
Every year, visitors leave garbage out or try to approach the bears wanting a photo. In some situations this contact with humans leads to bears being put down.
There are about 380,000 black bears and 26,000 grizzly bears in Canada, according to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, so it is important for us to act responsibly around them. Carelessness leads to access to garbage, so instead of foraging for natural food, bears are attracted to more densely populated areas in search of dinner.
The Get Bear Smart Society seeks to educate people about bear safety and prevent irresponsible attitudes towards bears in North America. They run workshops and provide training for professionals and people who live and work near bears. You can also check out the resources on their website to learn more about bears here.
Being Bear Aware
To avoid any confrontations with a bear you should:
- Never feed bears or approach wildlife
- Don’t store food or bait in your tent
- Cook and eat well away from your tent
- Secure all garbage, food and any other items with an odour keeping it well covered and contained
- It is recommended you buy bear resistant containers for your food
- Clean up immediately and thoroughly after cooking
- Leave strongly perfumed items at home
- Always carry bear spray with you
Encountering a Bear (Being Bear Aware)
Sometimes a confrontation is unavoidable, no matter how hard you try! Sometimes bears are curious or you may accidentally come across a defensive bear with cubs.
If you encounter a bear in the wild, you should follow these tips:
- Avoid if possible-avoid moving through bear habitat silently or alone, make lots of noise and travel in groups (large if possible)
- Remain calm and ready your bear spray
- Stay together if you’re in a group
- Never approach a bear
- Speak in a calm voice and back away slowly, walking not running in the direction whence you came
- Keep your eye on the bear to gauge its reaction (don’t make direct eye contact)
- If a black bear enters your campsite and your 100% sure it’s a black bear, you can yell at it firmly to leave, making sure it has a clear escape route-Don’t try to move a Grizzly!
- If the bear tries to make contact, use your bear spray.
- Read this blog post for tips on what to do if the bear starts attacking or eating you
Good luck and be bear aware!