1) Why don’t you relocate predators (bears, wolves, cougars)?
Moving a “problem animal” isn’t a viable solution for a number of reasons:
- Any good place to put a predator usually has one living there already. This creates conflict between the two, which will often end in one of the animals being killed by the other, or one of them starving to death.
- Relocated predators can travel hundreds of kilometres or more back to their home.
- After learning unhealthy behaviour (such as eating garbage), animals will prefer to seek out the most calories with the least amount of effort rather than seeking out natural food sources.
2) Why must my dog be on a leash?
Over 100,000 dogs visit this national park reserve annually and have a significant impact on wildlife if not properly controlled. Off-leash dogs can:
- chase shorebirds to exhaustion;
- harass or attack leashed dogs and other visitors; and/or
- be attacked by wolves as they are seen as both competition and prey.
For these reasons, the Canadian National Parks Act requires dogs to be on a leash.
For more information, visit our dogs and pets page.
3) Is it mean to scare wildlife away?
No! A truly wild predator shows wariness around human beings. They prefer to give us lots of space and avoid places of high human activity.
When wild animals lose their natural fear of people, they are increasingly attracted to human food, pets, and garbage. This eventually puts both people and wildlife in danger, potentially resulting in the animal being killed.
Help save an animal’s life by scaring them away instead of stopping to take a picture.
4) Should I honk at bears on the side of the road?
If you see a bear near the road, slow down, don’t stop, and consider honking your horn if there is no other traffic around. This may remind bears that the roadside is not a safe place to be. You create a hazardous situation by stopping your vehicle to observe wildlife.
- It teaches animals that highways and vehicles are harmless, contributing to animals being killed on roads every year.
- It creates an unexpected hazard for other drivers and cyclists on the road.
- It can create “bear jams” by encouraging others to pull over, which often results in a startled bear running out into traffic.
Remember to report bear sightings to park staff at 250-726-3604.
5) What is the difference between habituation and food-conditioning?
Habituation is the loss of an animal’s natural wariness of people and of areas with high human activity. Habituated animals may become bold or inquisitive about human activity, and may be encountered at close proximity.
Food conditioning means linking humans and food. Animals that have been fed or have found food left by humans can quickly become food-conditioned. These animals often become increasingly aggressive food-seekers, ultimately posing a danger to people through determined efforts to obtain further food.
6) Do bears hibernate on the West Coast of Vancouver Island?
Yes and no. Due to our mild winters with consistent marine food sources like crabs and beach hoppers, many black bears on the coast stay active year round.
However, all pregnant bears and females with young den for at least a short period.
Bears may occasionally wake up for a quick snack and stretch before going back to sleep.
Prior to denning, bears consume as much as 20,000 calories daily to build up large fat reserves.
7) Where can I go to take a picture of a wolf, bear, or cougar?
We do not actively encourage people to seek out wildlife for photography.
If you do happen to encounter wildlife, create and maintain plenty of space between you and the animal. Follow the recommendations on our “Keep the ‘wild’ in wildlife” page.
If you are lucky enough to observe wildlife from a safe distance (of greater than 100m or 10 bus lengths), use a telephoto lens to get the photos you want while still maintaining your distance.
8) What do I do if I see a marine mammal on the beach?
Give them plenty of space (at least 100m or 10 bus lengths) and keep your dogs far away! Dogs are perceived as potential predators and will cause the animal undue stress.
Report your sighting to park staff directly or call 250-726-3604.
Many well-meaning people approach marine mammals on the beach under the misconception that they are in danger. This often causes the animal a great deal of stress.
Seals and sea lions will occasionally leave pups on the beach only to return many hours later. Our interference can cause parents to abandon their young.
9) If a wolf, cougar, or bear isn’t acting aggressively, is it safe to get close to it?
If the animal isn’t aggressive, it may be curious, seeking your food, or testing its dominance.
If a wolf, cougar, or bear is choosing to stay in close proximity to people during an encounter, it is most likely already habituated, increasing the risk of conflict.
A predatory animal may see you as prey, and might quietly follow you. They may seem less aggressive, but they actually pose a more serious threat.
In such a situation, act big, don’t run, and pick children up. Learn more from the “Keep the ‘wild’ in wildlife” page.
10) Is it OK to watch wildlife from the safety of a car or boat?
Not unless you are more than 100m or 10 bus lengths away!
Wildlife can and will become habituated to people from repeated encounters with cars and boats. This can result in tragedies such as bears being hit on the highway or whales being struck by travelling boats.
When viewing large predators such as bears, wolves, or cougars, the minimum recommended distance is 100m, although the more distance you can create, the safer it will be for you and the animal.
When viewing marine mammals such as whales, the minimum required distance is 100m, or 200m in the case of orca whales.
11) If I report wildlife observations, will someone come and kill the animal?
The destruction of a wild animal is always the last option following other human and wildlife management actions. Wildlife experts use visitor reports to track animal activity and behaviour, making it possible for them to spot trends and potential concerns early.
If alerted early to animals approaching humans or populated areas, we may be able to take preventative action such as hazing (scaring) the animal, or educating people on how to avoid attracting predators.
If informed only after the animal has become habituated or food-conditioned, it is often too late to try and save its life.