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Bears in British Columbia


If you’re searching for that once-in-a-lifetime bear watching experience, British Columbia in Canada offers some of the most unforgettable opportunities to tick this off your bucket list.

Some of North America's most diversified wildlife habitats can be found in British Columbia. In fact, you can even expect to observe a huge variety of species just from behind the wheel of your car, thanks to the high peaks, dense, vast forests, and expansive shoreline.

The majestic grizzly bear, which formerly roamed much of the continent, is now mostly confined to British Columbia and Alaska, but black bears can also be seen in various parts of the country and are the most likely to be spotted whilst you are merely driving around. Spirit bears, also known as Kermode bears, are black bears with a cream-coloured coat and are incredibly rare and elusive animals. Spotting one takes lots of patience, a dollop of good luck and ideally, the tracking skills of an expert guide. If you are fortunate enough to glimpse a Spirit bear, the First Nations people believe it’s a sign of good fortune to come!

Less than 400 Spirit bears remain on the planet, and they can only be found in the Great Bear Rainforest. This 6.4-million-hectare stretch along the north and central coast is the world's last great wilderness of coastal temperate rainforest. 1,000-year-old cedar trees, moss-draped mountains, glacier-carved fjords and innumerable waterfalls plunging from vast heights can all be found in this distant and wild land. In addition to bears, it’s also home to wolves, cougars, Sitka deer, mountain goats, sea lions, orca and humpback whales amongst many more species.

The best time to see bears is in the late summer and early fall, from around mid-August to the end of October, when the salmon course their way up rivers, battling the currents. Watch in amazement as the usual solitary bears come together in a feeding frenzy in preparation for winter hibernation. It’s a fascinating and unforgettable experience. It's quieter from late May to mid-August, but bears can still be seen meandering the shores of the various coves, especially during low tide, when they nibble on grass and flip over boulders to eat insects and mussels.

Depending on the time of year you might travel by boat along the river or explore on foot through the rainforest keeping one eye out for pawprints in the mud and trees that have been used as scratching posts. But whichever way you witness these magnificent animals in their natural environment, it’s a magical wildlife encounter that you’ll never forget.

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