Living with Bears
Information on this page is from the Whistler Get Bear Smart Society website and it covers basic bear behaviour. Anyone who lives or visits bear country should visit the website and the links at the bottom of this page for more information on understanding bear communication, behaviour and how to live with bears peacefully.
You should know how to identify bears and how to react when you have an encounter with one. Understanding bear behaviour and communication is an essential part of creating safe environments for both bears and people.
Bear behaviour can be predictable. The more you can learn about bears and how they behave, the less likely you will be to have a negative encounter or misinterpret interactions.
Bears are NOT ferocious. They are NOT mean or malicious. Bears are normally shy, retiring animals that have very little desire to interact with humans, unless attracted by a food source.
Although black bears and grizzly bears do share some common traits, it’s important to understand the difference in the way they react to perceived threats. Each species has evolved different strategies for survival. A black bear's first line of defence is retreat, but grizzlies, especially sows with cubs, can be very aggressive if they feel threatened.
A black bear will usually run from a perceived threat or climb up a tree. Black bears are excellent climbers. With cubs out of danger, female black bears don't have to make vigorous defences that risk potential injury. Although black bears tend to retreat from people, they are still incredibly strong animals that can cause injuries.
Grizzlies are not good tree climbers, though it’s important to note that they can climb trees. A mother grizzly usually will aggressively defend her cubs on the ground rather than send them up a tree as a black bear sow will.
Bears habituate, or become accustomed, to people just like they do other bears. If they are not shot or harassed, bears habituate to people the same way they do to each other. It's up to you to educate yourself in BSL and learn bear as a second language. Interesting links:
photography by Mike Jensen
Information on this page from the Whistler Get Bear Smart Society