Bears are awesome. Spend any amount of time watching a black bear meander around the forests and alpine fields in Whistler and it’s very hard not to appreciate the natural simplicity of their lives: eat, explore, play, sleep, repeat – the bear necessities.
But these are not teddy bears and they most certainly are not tame. Those quiet lumbering fur balls can also run up to 50 km/hour (35 mph) and their claws and jaws have enough force to tear the door of a small car if there’s a jelly sandwich inside. Whistler’s black bears are wild animals, they have been living here long before we arrived, and they need to be treated with respect. Especially in the late summer and autumn.
“At this time of year, bears are feeding on ripening berries in the valley bottom,” says Sylvia Dolson, executive director of Whistler’s Get Bear Smart Society. “The single best piece of advice is stay at least 100 metres away from all bears. Do not approach them, not even for a photo. And never, ever, EVER feed a bear. Feeding bears changes their relationship with people–once they see people as a source of food the road to conflict is short and bears are killed to protect human safety. Keep bears alive by keeping them at a distance.”
It’s also very important to manage all trash, empty beverage containers, even birdseed or berry/fruit bushes this time of year. As the bears begin fattening up for hibernation they are looking for any and all food sources and with more bears (and bear cubs) in the valley this time of year it raises the chance of bear/human confrontation. And no one wants that.
The Get Bear Smart Society website is an extensive resource for what to do if you encounter a bear. Check it out and help keep Whistler’s bears wild.
For those who wish to learn more about Whistler’s bears, a bear viewing tour is the best way to view them safely and learn more about them from local experts, some of whom have been studying the bears for years. For more fall events and activities, whistler.com is worth a browse.