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Article Teaser: This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Since we have a high density of both black and grizzly bear, this series of articles is intended to help give you an idea of what you are dealing with when vacationing in our area.

Keep reading below...

A Bad Bear Place To Be

Copyright (c) 2007-2017

I began writing this series of articles after what seemed an unusual number of bear attacks by both blacks and grizzlies in Canada and the U.S. Prince George in north central British Columbia has always had a large concentration of bears and not a few deaths, mostly personnel working as timber cruisers for local mills, tree planters or for forestry. The lightly populated region provides good habitat for bears with dense undergrowth for cover, high wild berry production and numerous rivers teeming with fish. A longstanding conservation policy in BC protecting bears and a moratorium in the last few years banning grizzly bear hunts has resulted in higher than normal bear populations competing for limited food sources. The unusual weather the last two years may have contributed to lower than normal food sources as well.

A few years ago when I lived in Prince George a friend showed me a hunting camp on a lake that he and his family used on a regular basis. On telling me that they had problem bears in the area, I cleared out because I had already gotten that bad 'raised hair on the neck' feeling. A couple of days later he and another fellow that I know very well went back in to the camp to drop off non food supplies for the upcoming hunting season. Almost immediately they spotted a grizzly sow and her two full-grown cubs circling around the lake toward them. It was obvious that the bears had seen them as well and were making a steady beeline toward them. Fortunately, the bears' progress was hampered by heavy downfall and thick undergrowth, and the guys had time to get back to their vehicle and out of there.

The bears in that region don't seem to have the normal fear of humans and almost seem to consider man just another food source, which is highly unusual. Are predator sows teaching their cubs to hunt anything and everything? And is this predisposition to hunt humans rather than fear them something that is being passed down generation to generation? Without extensive studies there is probably no way of coming to any conclusion on that score but perhaps a proactive approach should be taken on the part of the Fish and Game Ministry to determine the numbers in the area and perhaps take steps to move them.

There is the argument that when man encroaches on bear territory, he does so at his own risk. However, while living in Prince George I can remember one year when the city was plagued by both blacks and grizzlies, and that the RCMP saw and chased eight bears out of the city proper in one night alone. That indicates to me that it can be the other way around and fearless bears in the area have no problem with encroaching on human territory.

Protecting yourself in bear country

As I mentioned in previous articles, scientists divide bears up into three categories, all of which can cross over into another. There are sows with cubs, rogue bears unafraid of humans and predator bears that consider humans to be a food source. Recognizing the type you are facing in case of an encounter and deciding on your course of action must be immediate. In case of a sow, you need to reduce your perceived threat to the sow, either by backing up or seeming less threatening. In the case of a rogue bear simply raiding your garden, fruit trees or garbage, you need to remove those temptations and contact authorities to come and remove the animal. In case of an encounter with a rogue or predator bear where your life is threatened, be prepared to fight back by whatever means possible.

I felt this series was necessary in view of all the recent bear attacks in North America and because this region relies heavily on tourism. In the case of most bears, you'll be lucky to get your camera out in time to get a picture before they clear out, but there are a few rules you need to follow any time you go out into the wilderness.

If hiking, try to go in the company of at least one other person, carry a bell or attach bells to your shoes, carry bear spray, firecrackers, a sturdy walking stick and if possible, a knife. Most importantly, stay aware of your surroundings at all times. You aren't likely to surprise a sow or end up between her and her cubs if you make her aware that you are in the area. Generally, the same goes for a rogue bear. When camping, keep your foodstuffs locked away from your living space or high in a tree. Keep your camp clean and burn all garbage or dispose of it in bear proof bins located in most parks.

If faced with a bear that doesn't look like it's moving off, get your bear spray ready, light firecrackers and throw them in the direction of the bear. (There is one exception to the use of firecrackers. Do not use them where there is a high risk of starting a forest fire!) Shout and windmill your arms to make yourself larger and thump a stick or club on a stump or tree. Bluff as much as possible, because in the case of many bears, that's what they're all about. If the bear perceives you to be larger or meaner it will move away.

Most bear attacks seem to be the result of surprise encounters so making noise and staying aware of your surroundings and watching the bush around you, including your back trail, is your best bet. And follow your instincts. If you start to feel uncomfortable with your surroundings, back out of there and retrace your back trail out of the bush.

In conclusion, considering the number of people going into the backcountry nowadays, it is no surprise that there is the odd attack but if you compared the number of humans encroaching on bear territory to the number of attacks, the percentage is minuscule. So enjoy your backcountry experience. Just be cautious and aware of your surroundings, be prepared for the unexpected and the unexpected is less likely to occur.


About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Jane Baker writes daily articles about the remote Chilcotin area in west central British Columbia, Canada. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife, living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog! To learn more about vacationing here check out http://www.resortsbc.com/index.html

All five bear attack articles with images can be found at http://www.resortsbc.com/Wilderness-AdventuresSep4.html

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Internal ID: #4623
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