Bear Aware

Black Bear
Black bears are abundant in Gwaii Haanas © Parks Canada

Black bears (Ursus americanus carlottae) play a vital role on the Islands; and for thousands of years, the Haida have respected this animal, calling bears Taan, or “Brother of Man”. The bears found on Haida Gwaii are often seen foraging in the intertidal zone. During autumn, they congregate around streams where the salmon are running.

Do not approach or feed the bears. Bears that begin to associate humans with food lose their natural fear of humans and become more aggressive when seeking human food. This can lead to potentially deadly encounters and the destruction of the animals. At Gwaii Haanas, it is our policy that if a bear becomes habituated to people, the area will be closed to people—we will remove the people, not the bears. Please act responsibly—for your safety, the safety of others, and the safety of the bears.

If You Encounter a Bear:

  • Stay calm. The best way to stay calm is by being prepared.

  • Make a wide detour or leave the area.

  • Do not run. Bears run faster than people and running may trigger an attack. Face the bear, back away slowly, and talk in a soft voice.

  • Drop a pack or object. It may help to distract the bear.

  • Watch for aggressive behaviour such as jaw snapping, huffing or woofing sounds, or keeping its head low and ears laid back.

Most bear attacks occur after a bear has been surprised, particularly if the bear is a female with cubs. Bears are aggressive when defending a food source.

Keep Us Informed

Report all interactions with bears to Gwaii Haanas staff in the field or at the Gwaii Haanas office.

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