From towering cedars and vast, mountainous forests to orca pods and grizzly bears, a trip to BC will leave you awestruck. Here are 3 great places to view bears in BC.
Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary
Established in 1994, Khutzeymateen is Canada’s first and only grizzly bear sanctuary. An estimated 40-60 bears live in the rich coastal habitat. Tours run May through September and span 3 full days. Guests arrive via floatplane from Prince Rupert, BC and enjoy accommodation at Khutzeymateen Lodge, which floats on the water. Days in the Khutzeymateen are filled with grizzly bears, bald eagles, seabirds, seals, waterfalls and mountains – a nature-lovers dream!
The forests surrounding Whistler Village are home to around 60 black bears, and sightings are not uncommon. The best way to see them is by booking a tour. Whistler Photo Safaris offer exclusive Land Rover tours at Whistler Olympic Park, which includes a special look at the 2010 Winter Olympic legacy. “Another place to keep your eyes peeled is from a gondola perch as you ride into the alpine”, explains Hello BC. The Whistler Blackcomb alpine opens to hikers in the spring/summer season with bear sightings a common occurrence.
Great Bear Rainforest
The Great Bear Rainforest covers an area of British Columbia the equivalent in size to Ireland. It has become a popular destination for travelers seeking first-hand views of the region’s stunning landscapes and wildlife. This includes the rare, near-white Kermode bear, or “Spirit Bear”. Recognised as the official provincial mammal for B.C, it can only be found in the Great Bear Rainforest. Bella Coola is a great base from which to explore the Great Bear Rainforest. Make the most of your experience by staying in a First Nation’s Lodge and booking a guide for your adventure.
Staying Safe Around Bears in BC
Almost all of BC is considered “bear country” with bears inhabiting everything from the coastal forests and mountains, through to the interior prairies.
‘It’s normal to be frightened if you encounter a bear. The reality is that most encounters with bears in BC rarely lead to aggressive behaviour and attacks are even rarer’, writes The Bear Smart Society. ‘The best way to prevent an unpleasant bear encounter is to avoid them all together’.
‘If you see a bear in the distance, respect its need for personal space. Do not approach it, even to get a photo, and give it as much room as possible.’
When out exploring in bear country, BC Parks advises:
- Make noise,
- Be alert,
- Stay together,
- Watch your pets,
- Use officially marked trails,
- Carry bear spray and know how to use it.
Further Reading – Bears In BC
Looking for more information about bear safety and encounter mitigation? Check out this really useful article by effortlessoutdoors.com. It includes tips on reading bear behaviour and dispells some common myths surrounding these beautiful animals.
We also found this post by Outside How useful – especially for identifying between grizzlies and black bears in BC. These tips should also help you to prevent a bad situation if you do see a bear.
If you’re planning a visit to BC soon, be sure to check out 5 Whistler Hikes For The Whole Family.