Staying safe in bear country

Travel Tips — By shelaghmcnally on August 13, 2011 at 6:23 am

Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service

Hiking in Banff is a must-do activity since there is no better way to experience the incredible mountain views. However, the Rocky Mountains are home to both grizzly and black bears.

Bears prefer their own company and will generally avoid people. However, encounters between bears and people do occur, particularly in mid-August when the bears in search of sweet berries to gorge on.

Stay safe while on the hiking trails in bear country by following these important tips from Parks Canada.

  • Avoid an encounter. Let the bears know you’re in the woods. Make noise and talk loudly. You’ll be safer in large groups. Parks Canada recommends groups of four or more.
  • Stay out of areas with a lot of berries. Watch for fresh bear signs and tracks. Turned over rocks or soil, fresh tracks or droppings are all indications there is a bear nearby. Avoid that area.
  • Hike during daylight hours along officially marked parks and trails.
  • If you come across any large dead animals, leave the area immediately. Report the location of the animal to park staff.
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it. It can be an effective deterrent but only when used correctly. Check the manufacturer’s instructions but also learn more about when to use the spray.
  • Dogs and bears don’t mix. Keep your dog on a leash at all times. Even better, leave man’s best friend at home.

If you encounter a bear, give it LOTS of space! Find out more at the Bears and People website

If you are driving and see a bear by the road, DON’T STOP – keep driving. Follow the speed limit and road signs. Bears are often spotted crossing the highways in search of more berries.

Learn more by visting Bears and People. Enjoy your hike and stay safe in bear country!

Tags: avoid encounters with bears, avoiding bears, berries and bears, black bears, rocky mountains, staying safe in bear country