British Columbia has some of the highest populations of black bears in the world with estimates ranging from 120 to 150 thousand animals. Most of BC is considered “bear country” with bears living in coastal temperate rainforests as well as the dry interior.
AVOIDING A BEAR ENCOUNTER
- Keep pets leashed: pets can anger a bear and provoke an attack. If the bear chases an unleashed pet, the animal may be severely injured or bring the bear back to its owner. if possible keep pets at home.
- Avoid walking at night: Animals are more active at night. Always carry a flashlight to avoid surprising them after dark
- Obey park regulations, stay on designated trails and comply with bear warnings.
- Hike as a group and stay close together; groups of that size are less likely to be attacked.
- Reduce the chance of surprising a bear: Stay alert. Watch for bear signs as rotted wood that has been torn apart, clawed, bitten or rubbed trees, tracks, crushed vegetation... Always watch for bears in the distance. If you see a bear far ahead, make a wide detour or leave the area. Make noise to alert bears of your presence.
- Stay clear of dead animals If you see circling crows or smell rotting meat, leave immediately. These may be signs that carrion is nearby. Bears feed on dead animals.
IF YOU MEET THE BEAR
Stay calm and keep the animal in view, but avoid direct eye contact. The bear may interpret it as a sign of aggression. Back away slowly if you can. Never run from a bear unless you know you can reach safety.
Determine whether the animal is a black bear or a grizzly.
"If it's black, fight back. If it's brown, lay down."
- Use bear pepper spray: is a highly concentrated spray that can stop a bear in its tracks better than a gun.
- Do not run: if you meet a grizzly bear, make sure to stand your ground, stay calm, and slowly reach for your bear spray. The last thing you want to do is run because the bear will catch you. If he or she stands tall in curiosity, move away slowly with your spray in your hand. If the bear continues to follow you, continue to stand your ground and use your spray if necessary. (The best distance to spray at an attacking bear is 40-50 ft.)
- Tuck and cover: If the bear starts to charge, it’s best to fall down into a fetal position while protecting your head, neck, and stomach.
- Play dead: Grizzlies attack when they feel surprised or threatened, so they tend to stop attacking when there’s no longer a threat. However, don’t just get up and run away once the bear leaves. Brown bears are ferocious beasts that won’t quit until they’re 100 percent sure that threat is gone.
- Bear pepper spray: No matter what the threat, bear spray should always be handy on your adventures in the woods. It works on all bears.
- Stay grounded, get big, and be loud: Jump up and down, wave your arms and yell. Try to look as large as possible. Never play dead - it makes you easier prey. Remember that black bears and small grizzlies can climb trees, so stay on the ground. Black bears usually tend to flee rather than fight back when faced with conflict. Sticks or other objects can be used to make yourself look bigger while yelling and being loud can intimidate or scare off a black bear.
The best way to fend off a black bear is to act aggressively (as weird as it sounds).