Don’t let bears stop you from exploring BC’s incredible wilderness!

Be Safe – Be Bear Aware

If you are a person who is afraid of bears then educating yourself will likely help you feel more confident when you are going on a Hike or a Backcountry Camping Adventure.


  • HIBERNATION FROM NOVEMBER – APRIL – Bears in BC typically start coming out in April. This is the time when they’re hungry and looking for food. Since there is still a lot of snow at higher elevation they tend to meander to lower grounds increasing the chance for us humans to run into them. Not to forget that us humans also like to explore higher grounds.
  • BC = BEAR COUNTRY – Bears inhabit most ecosystems throughout BC and you should consider the entire province to be “bear country”.
  • BEARS AND CUBS – When bears come out of hibernation they may have cubs, which they now need to protect. Reason why they can be slightly more aggressive when they feel in danger.
  • GIVING BIRTH – Did you know bears give birth when they’re hibernating and they may not even wake up while this is all happening?
  • BEARS ARE LAZY – Bears are pretty lazy animals and they are happy to use our manmade trails to move around the forest.
  • NEVER APPROACH A BEAR – Never walk toward a bear – always keep your distance. Don’t be tempted to take that selfie, it may not be worth it.
  • BEARS ARE TYPICALLY NOT INTERESTED IN YOU – Besides the odd occasion, bears typically tend to mind their own business. If you don’t bother them, don’t feed them and don’t end up in between mum and cubs, you should be fine.
  • BEARS ARE OMNIVOROUS – They can eat tons of berries and can consume over 20,000 calories a day. Vegetation makes up about 80% of their diet and if they do eat meat it’s mainly from dead animals.
  • INCREDIBLE HEARING – Bears will hear you loooong before you see them. Reason why making noise is so important. This way they can already decide to leave before you run into them.
  • INCREDIBLE SENSE OF SMELL – Bears can smell anything with a scent from a far distance. Even things like toothpaste and baby wipes. They can smell food from over a kilometre away.
  • DON’T THROW GARBAGE IN THE FIRE – Bears enjoy the smell of burning garbage even more than the smell of regular garbage.
  • AMAZING CLIMBERS – Black bears are great climbers. Grizzly bears don’t climb.
  • GRIZZLY BEARS vs BLACK BEARS – Grizzly bears tend to be more dangerous than Black bears. Know the difference!

Know the difference!

For the difference between Black Bears and Grizzly Bears see following link:


  • CARRY BEAR SPRAY – And use a quick release holster, as it should be in easy reach. Never tuck away your bear spray under a rain jacket or in the back of your pack.
  • WATCH FOR BEAR SIGNS – It’s better to avoid bears then to encounter them. Examples of signs can be: scat, tracks, signs of grazing, overturned logs and claw marks on trees.
  • TALK OR SING – Let bears know you’re in the area. The sound from bear bells do not carry as far nor are as distinct as the sound of human voices.


You can purchase Bear Spray at MEC or Canadian Tire. Make sure to check the expiry date before going out.




No idea how to use a bear spray? Test it before you go out! At MEC you can purchase a combo package of a bear spray and a test spray, so you can test using the “bear spray”. This will give you the confidence of actually being able use it when needed. Never test your actual bear spray as once you use it the chemicals erode.


  • IS THE BEAR PAYING ATTENTION TO YOU? – When you see a bear and it is not paying attention to you, keep an eye on the bear and slowly walk backwards. Don’t pass the bear and don’t throw anything at the bear!
  • IS THE BEAR MAKING NOISE? – If the bear makes lots of noise and is looking at you then hold your ground, pull out your bear spray and release the safety.
  • USE YOUR VOICE – Speak to the bear with a loud low voice and do not make direct eye contact.
  • USE BEAR SPRAY – If the bear is within 5-10 meters spray the bear spray from the ground up to create a wall between yourself and the bear.
  • BEAR WALKS OFF – If this works and the bear decides to leave, head back and contact the Conservation Officer Reporting line as soon as possible +1 877-952-7277
  • BEAR DOES NOT WALK OFF – If the bear is still coming at you, take a couple of steps back and continue to speak in a low voice. Do not make direct eye contact with the bear. Keep your bear spray at the ready. Once the bear knows you are not a threat it should leave or return to what it was protecting.


  • CHOOSE YOUR CAMPSITE – Before choosing your campsite, do a walk around to check for signs of wildlife. Look for tracks, scat, signs of feeding, etc.
  • COOK AND EAT – Cook and eat away from your tent.
  • FOOD – Do not keep any food in your tent.
  • STORING FOOD AND GARBAGE – Store all food in bear resistant bags and put your garbage in airtight plastic bags. Suspend food and garbage from a line stretched between two trees. Make sure the bottom of your pack is at least 3m above the ground and 1.5m from the nearest tree. Keep in mind that Black bears can climb up trees.
  • SLEEP – When sleeping, have your bear spray and a flashlight within reach.
  • URINATING – You may believe that urinating around your campsite is a good way to mark your territory. But the opposite is actually true. Urine odour attracts bears. You should do your peeing far from your campsite.

Wild Safe BC

For more in depth information, check out Wild Safe BC’s website: