Friday, July 7

How to stay safe in Bear Country!

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Jul 7, 2023

How to stay safe in Bear Country!

The Bow Valley is bear country! Learn how to stay safe with these tips.


We want every hiker to enjoy their day hiking. Knowing some bear saftey tips are important to know keep in your back pocket, in case of emergency.


Carrying bear spray with you at all times on the trail and knowing how to use it can be effective with some bears when used properly.  In perfect conditions bear spray can shoot up to 8 M or 26 FT!  Wind, spray distance, rain, freezing temperatures, and product shelf life can all influence its effectiveness. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the proper use of bear spray (including the manufacturer’s specific instructions) and keep it readily accessible.


The best way to stay safe and help protect these animals is by avoiding encounters with them and limit their exposure to you.


Wondering why? When a bear encounters people, they sometimes change their path of travel or abandon an area, which means they might be leaving their habitat and use energy unnecessarily to travel and find a new place to feed.

With frequent, repeated exposure to people, bears get used to humans and lose what makes them special, their wildness. Once they lose their natural fear of humans, they are more likely to enter a campground or townsite where food or garbage may be improperly stored.


How do you avoid an encounter?

- Be alert when in areas where bears are likely to be, such as near berry patches and other food sources.

- Make noise! Call out, clap, sing or talk loudly especially near streams and dense vegetation.

- Watch for fresh bear signs. Tracks, droppings, diggings, torn-up logs, and turned-over rocks are signs that a bear has been in the area. Leave the area if the signs are fresh.

- Hike in groups. Hiking in a tight group of four or more is recommended.

- Use officially marked paths and trails and travel during daylight hours. Leave the wild trails to wildlife.

 - If you come across a large dead animal, leave the area immediately and report it.

- Carry and know how to use bear spray.



What to do next if you see a bear on the trail

As exciting as seeing a bear could be, bear in mind (pun intended) that these are wild animals. If you see a bear and notice that the bear is unaware of your presence, move away quietly without getting its attention. If the bear is aware of your presence, Parks Canada recommends following these tips:

- Stay calm.  Screams or sudden movements may trigger an attack.

- Speak to the bear. Talk calmly and firmly. This lets the bear know you are human and not a prey animal.

- Back away slowly. Running may cause the bear to pursue you.

- Make yourself appear BIG by picking up small children and staying in a group.

- Keep your backpack and other hiking equipment, they can provide protection.

- Leave the area. Make a wide detour around a bear or wait at a safe distance for it to move on.

 For more information about bear safety, visit Parks Canada.


Want to learn more on where to park while hiking in the Banff Sunshine area this summer, visit our 2021 Summer Access blog.


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