Pretty much the second question everyone asks when they hear we’re going to Canada is along the lines of, “But what about the bears?”. First question is “but why so far?”…
Seeing wildlife is definitely one of the attractions of travelling far away, and I would like to see bears, but preferably from a long distance away, and with something impenetrable between us.
I have been doing a little research into being ‘bear aware’ and what the dangers really are.
Wikipedia has a grisly (!) list of fatal bear attacks stretching back to the 80s with locations, species and all the gory details, e.g. “A 230 lb (104.3 kg) adult male black bear on the scene was killed by troopers and found to have some of Weaver’s remains in his stomach”. Killing humans definitely isn’t healthy for bears – pretty much all of the bears on the Wikipedia list were shot by rangers afterwards.
Rule number one in defensive bear tactics appears to be ‘know which kind of bear you are dealing with’. If it’s a black bear, shouting and looking large may be enough to scare it away. If it’s a grizzly, the advice is to play dead. Reassuring…
Steve remembered this joke from boy scout days in Canada:
How do you tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly?
Climb up a tree. If it climbs up after you and eats you, it’s a black bear. If it knocks the tree down and eats you, it’s a grizzly.
But our bear sightings may be confined to bears in captivity. I loved this advice from the Mcternan’s blog:
The park wardens’ role is partly to ensure that you don’t see bears. Otherwise they become problem bears. Tourists and bears are not supposed to encounter each other.