Seeing a bear can be one of the most memorable experiences of a wilderness vacation, but it is our responsibility to respect the bear in its home. This means we must not force bears to leave their habitat, teach them to eat human foods, or place bears in situations where people or bears could get hurt. Preparation and education are essential to ensure our encounters with bears in the wild are positive and free from conflict.
Bears are everywhere. We see them on the side of the highway, on logging roads, on the way to a campsite, near towns, or in the bush when hiking or working. Bears will usually hide from people, but remember: just because you don't see a bear, it doesn't mean they aren't around.
British Columbia has about one-quarter of all black bears in Canada, and half of all grizzly bears. Both species are found throughout the province, with very few exceptions. There are no grizzly bears on Vancouver Island or on the Queen Charlottes, for instance, and there are few or no grizzlies in the heavily-settled Lower Mainland or the dry, southern areas of the province.
Although B.C. is fortunate to have black bears and grizzlies occupying most of their historic range throughout the province, bears and their habitat face risks from increasing human development and access. There is only a small amount of inaccessible wilderness left in British Columbia, but there is a tremendous and growing human interest to spend leisure time in the wilds of the province. We must respect the fact that the wilderness is home to bears, and as visitors we must do our part to help conserve bears and their home.
Ministry of Environment. 1996. Safety Guide to Bears in the Wild. Ministry of Environment. Safety Guide