Have you been wondering why some of the trails in RMNP have been closed during various times of the year? For example, we can have a lot of black bear activity at the end of the summer due to an abundant berry crop and extra care needs to be taken on our trails. Moon Lake trail has always been a popular place for the bears to hang out, but due to the closed in, curvy nature of the trail, it is easy for bears to be snuck up on.
A bear’s natural avoidance behaviour can shift to aggression if they are protecting their young or a food source, your dog provokes them, or if they feel trapped.
When bears get surprised, especially females with cubs, they may have different reactions:
- They might make a woofing noise, clack their jaw, or stamp on the ground
- They may bluff charge, coming within feet of you and then veering away at the last second
Here is how to react if you do encounter a black bear:
- Remain calm – speak to the bear in a low, calm voice. Do not alarm it with loud noises or sudden movement
- Back away slowly, never run
- Make yourself large – pick up small children and stay in a group
- Don’t drop your backpack – it can provide protection in the event of an attack
- Leave the area or take a detour
Cyclists and runners are more at risk of sneaking up on a bear because they are quiet and fast. If you are using the trails to any extent we ask that you follow these guidelines to avoid an encounter:
- Travel as part of a group
- Make noise – sing, clap, call out, or talk loudly
- Watch for bear signs – if you see droppings, digging, or fresh tracks leave the area
- Keep your dog on a leash AT ALL TIMES – dogs can provoke aggressive behaviour in bears and other wildlife
- If you come across any dead animals, leave the area and report it to park staff
- Obey all area closures – we would never close a trail or issue a warning without a good reason. It is illegal to enter a closed area.
If you are planning on using a trail with a “Warning: Bear in Area” notice, you may still use the trail, but take extra precautions to avoid an encounter. We issue warnings when there is a bear that has been using the area for an extended period of time and has been encountered by many visitors.
As always, if you have an encounter with wildlife please report it to RMNP staff, or if you see any illegal activity happening we ask that you please report it to Jasper Dispatch at 1-877-852-3100