One of the greatest animals that call Canada’s lush wilderness home is the bear. From black bears to grizzlies, and even the polar bear, people travel from all over the world to see these amazing mammals in their natural habitat. Many Canadians have been lucky enough to see a bear in the wild – and although up to 90% of black and grizzly bears’ diets may come from plants, it is best to observe from afar – and many organizations will help people who want the thrill of seeing a bear with the safety of experienced guides.
The best place to see polar bears in their natural habitat in is Churchill, Manitoba. There are many companies that run “safaris” on the tundra. Frontiers North is a Canadian company based in Winnipeg with a great website that emphasizes respect for the bears and their environment. Great White Bear Tours is based in Churchill. The tour company offers an interesting local perspective on polar bears and the issues around their protection.
To see grizzly bears, head west to BC, and be prepared to don a life jacket as most viewing is done aboard boats. If you are willing to drive to Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island, Tide Rip Grizzly Adventures will take you out for a day of bear watching. Vancouver Island Destinations is another company offering the thrill of bear watching. They offer tours ranging from one-day excursions to five-day sojourns at a remote lodge accessed only by seaplane. The Tourism BC website lists other options, as well.
If you are heading into the Canadian wilderness in hopes of seeing bears, be sure to check with the locals. About two years ago, SeaChange Seafoods founders Anne and John Millerd drove to Bella Coola on the BC coast. They stayed with friends who took them to a bear-viewing platform on the Atnarko River. Here the group waited quietly in the company of a trained ranger from Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, hoping a bear would come by to catch itself a salmon. To their surprise and delight, their patience was rewarded by the arrival of a young male Grizzly who enjoyed his morning swim right before their very eyes.
There is nothing like seeing these majestic animals in their natural habitat – to experience this thrill for yourself, make sure to do so in the company of knowledgeable and practiced guides.
Photo: John Millerd and friends on a bear-watching trip.