Fall is a delightful time of year to get outside and explore along BC Route 7: the crisp fall air invigorates, and the landscape becomes more vibrant as leaves transform into colorful jewel tones. However, the seasonal changes mean an increase in bear activity. In autumn, bears spend up to 20 hours a day foraging, and eat ten times the calories they normally eat to put on extra fat for winter insulation. They travel longer distances and sleep less, as they’re hyper-focused on consuming 20,000 calories a day or more. Here are some ways you can reduce the chance of a bear encounter and keep yourself – and bears – safe!
Heading to a park? Check its webpage to see if there are posts warning of bear activity.
When you arrive at your destination, be on the lookout for posters about bears at the trailhead or campsite.
Pack bear deterrents like an airhorn, bear bangers, or bear spray, and know how to use them.
ON A HIKE
Read and abide by all trailhead signage.
Walk in groups and make plenty of noise, so bears have a chance to hear you and make their escape. Talk loudly, sing, ring bear bells; anything to make your presence known as you don’t want to surprise a bear. Be especially loud around moving water where it’s harder to hear, or through thick brush.
Keep children close.
Be alert to your surroundings; never wear earphones in bear country.
Always keep dogs on leash or leave them at home; and never let your dog chase after a bear. A dog retreating from a bear will bring the bear right back to you.
Avoid using trails at dawn or dusk, as this is when bear activity is higher.
Set up your tent on an established camp spot; if you are in backcountry, avoid camping near a bear’s food sources like berry patches; or near signs of bear activity, like bear tracks, scat or scratched trees.
Store food, trash, cookstoves, and anything fragrant (e.g. lotions, toothpaste) in a hardtop vehicle with windows closed, or if camping away from your vehicle, suspended in a tree at least 100 yards from your campsite. It’s a great idea to purchase a bear-resistant canister or cooler.
Cook as far away from your tent as possible and clean your cooking surfaces thoroughly. Avoid bringing greasy foods like bacon.
Never eat or store food in your tent.
Don’t leave food scraps in your campfire ring. This attracts bears which can cause trouble for the next campers, and get bears acclimated to hanging around campsites.
Photo credit: @confusioncircle
Photo credit: @sweston10
Photo credit: @daynamariah
IN CASE OF AN ENCOUNTER
There’s nothing like encountering a bear to get your heart racing, but stay calm; bear attacks are rare; and most bears want to avoid you as much as you want to avoid them! Here are some tips:
If you see a bear from a distance, respect its space, never try to get closer, as tempting as a photo opportunity is. If photos are a must, use a telephoto lens instead of trying to get closer.
If you encounter a bear on a trail, stop and evaluate. Speak in a quiet, calm tone and back away slowly, don’t run. In most cases, the bear will make a quick escape. If a bear approaches you, make yourself look big by standing on a log or rock, hold up your jacket, make loud noises, clap, and wave your arms and yell at it. Make sure it has a way to escape so it doesn’t feel trapped.
Photo credit: @reflectingthewild on Instagram
BC is home to approximately 15,000 grizzly bears and 150,000 black bears.
A bear’s vision is comparable to humans, but they have superior hearing; and their sense of smell is exceptional; seven times better than a bloodhound’s!
Bears are excellent swimmers and swift runners over any terrain. Bears can run up to 56 km/hr and can scramble 100 feet up a tree in 30 seconds.
When bears hibernate, they don’t go to the bathroom or eat; their bodies recycle waste products. Their metabolism, respiration, and heartbeat slow drastically.
Enjoy your autumn adventures along the BC Route 7! For more travel inspiration, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram! Don’t forget to tag your adventure photos with #BCRoute7 to share them with us!