Posted by: cherylyoung | August 31, 2013




British Columbia is prime bear watching territory.

The province is home to the rare white Kermode

(Spirit) bear, more than half of Canada’s grizzly

 bears, and a quarter of Canada’s black bears.

Types of Bear-Watching Tours in BC

Most bear-viewing tours use elevated viewing

 platforms or boats drifting in  the river.


 Tours typically have very high bear viewing

success rates, often ranging from 90-100%.

Boat-based tours are mobile and create a sense of

 being on a “bear-safari.”

 They give a unique bear’s eye-level perspective and

are often close enough to hear bears tearing and

chewing sedge grasses near the water’s edge.

In fall, elevated viewing platforms provide the

chance to witness dramatic scenes, such as

 bear to bear interactions or bears running after

 salmon in shallow waters.

 Individual bear personalities often become

apparent and the bears decide how far – or close –

 they lumber past the platforms. Other land-based

 bear viewing can involve driving along backroads.

Depending on the region and operator, tours range

 from quick half-day excursions to multi-day


 Check with local Visitor Centres for information

about bear-watching tours available in the area.

> Show all bear watching listings

Bear-watching season is best in spring and fall.

In spring, bears emerge from hibernation and

 hungrily seek out fresh shoots and sedges along

 river banks and low-lying areas.

 Boat tours are common.

In fall, spawning salmon are a feast for bears

 fattening up before hibernation.

Bears (along with eagles and wolves) line the rivers

 and fish for their meals.

 Viewing platforms are commonly used.

Types of Bears in BC

Grizzly Bears

BC’s largest bears, weighing up to 500kg (1,100lb).

 An estimated 16,000 grizzlies live in BC’s vast



Their reclusive nature means that they generally

 avoid populated areas and people, making sighting

one a special occurrence.

Kermode (Spirit) Bears

A rare subspecies of black bear with white- or

cream-coloured fur due to a genetic trait.

Princess Royal Island, on the central coast, has

the largest concentration of Spirit bears in the

world  – as many as one in ten black bears may

 be white.

 It has an important place in First Nations legends

and is BC’s official mammal.

Black Bears BC’s most common bear.


Found across the province, except in the most

 urban areas.

Contrary to their name, they’re not always black.

 Brown, blonde, cinnamon and even white colour

variations are possible.

Bear Safety

For the safety of humans and bears, always follow

 these strict but simple precautions from BC Parks

 and the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC:


Choose a bear-viewing operator that is respectful

 and protective of the bears and their needs.

Bears may approach humans for many reasons;

 most are not threatening reasons.

During an uncomfortably close encounter,

stay calm, don’t move quickly, never run and listen

 to the wildlife viewing guide.

Never feed or approach a bear – even to get that

 perfect photo.


 Hungry or angry bears can attack without warning.

 Do not use flash photography around bears.

Vehicles should be well off the road when viewing

 or photographing wildlife.

Leave the pets at home or on a very tight leash to

 avoid attracting or angering bears.

To avoid human food conditioning of bears, food

 or beverages other than water should not be

 consumed near habitats that are frequented

 by bears.

Perch in an elevated viewing platform and witness

grizzly bears pouncing on and devouring spawning


Drift silently in a riverboat and listen to a black

 bear and her cubs munching fresh grass sedges.


 Or catch a glimpse of an elusive white Spirit bear

 lumbering along a mossy riverbank.

Bear viewing in BC ranges from spotting a bear

 next to the highway to luxury wilderness

adventure trips.


 It’s possible to view bears without a guide, but

 guided bear-watching trips are the best way to

ensure a safe, successful experience of viewing

bears in their natural habitat.


> Show all bear watching listings

Learn More About Bear Watching in:

Vancouver Island Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Northern British Columbia Vancouver Coast & Mountains Kootenay Rockies Thompson Okanagan

Spirit Bear Youth Coalition Founder

At the age of 13, Simon Jackson heard about

 North America’s rarest bear – the white Kermode

 or spirit bear – and the plans to develop their last

 intact habitat on British Columbia’s central coast.


Jackson founded the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition

 – one of the world’s first all youth-run organizations

 and the first involved in this issue  – with the hope

 of creating a new type of  environmental advocacy

 group. Now, a major Hollywood animated movie

 made for the specificpurpose of saving the spirit

 bear is in production.








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