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Thread: Bears

  1. #1
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    Bears

    I'll be traveling around BC and a bit of Alberta for the next couple months (Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Whistler, Kelowna, Banff, Jasper, Revelstoke, Rossland, Fernie, Nelson, etc). I'll be mostly riding solo. Just curious how concerned I need to be about grizzly bears? I'm from Santa Cruz and we have mountain lions and great white sharks and a lot of visiting surfers and mountain bikers worry about them, but I never give it a second thought. However, grizzlys seem like a whole other ballgame. How common is it to run into them? Do locals worry about it?

    Any advice would be appreciated on how to be safe when riding solo.

    Thanks very much.


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  2. #2
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    Varies by area, grizzlies are more common in some areas, typically more remote and higher areas, but black bears are everywhere. Usually bear warnings will be posted at trail heads if there has been bear activity identified, and there have been quite a few trail closures this year for bear encounters near the Rockies. Young black bears will typically avoid humans, unless they are curious, but grizzlies tend to view people as food or invaders in their territory. You definitely don't want to surprise a bear, so bear bells and bear spray are a good idea. Watch out for cubs, because that means you're likely in trouble if you're between a mom and the cubs. The weather this year seems to have pushed a lot of bears closer to humanity as they search for food this summer.

    The risk is real when the encounters happen, even though the encounters are still fairly rare, it's like probability of precipitation, if you're being rained on, it's a 100% probability.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLMa5-n2OVc

    Bear warnings issued for parks near Canmore - Calgary - CBC News

    Bear closure warning signs removed from Canmore trails without authorization - Calgary - CBC News

    Young grizzly chases cyclist near Radium Hot Springs - Calgary - CBC News

    Grizzly attack near Water Valley, Alta. leaves man in his 50s with serious injuries - Calgary - CBC News

    https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/mtn/ou...s-bears-people

    Visiting Parks - BC Parks - Province of British Columbia
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  3. #3
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    I'll add my advice as a wildlife biologist and outdoorsmen for over 20 years.

    Most bear attacks occur when a bear is startled and reacts defensively, particularly if it is a sow with cubs, or if it is defending food. These are the two big things you have to plan for and mitigate, IMO.

    Mountain bikers are particularly susceptible to startling bears because of the speeds at which we travel and how quickly we can startle a bear. I suggest that you make LOTS of noise anywhere in bear country. Shouting is the best way, and bear bells are not particularly effective. If you can't see down the trail 50 m, or if you are moving fast, shout lots. I have had enough bears shoot out of the bush ahead of me when I have shouted to know it is effective.

    The other big one is food - don't leave ANYTHING with human scent (food, candy wrappers, toothpaste, sun lotion, etc.) on your bike or in your camp if you aren't alert and watching it. At night, hanging everything in a drybag downwind from your campsite is important, and most people won't even cook in their tent.

    Finally, it is essential to carry bear spray in case either of the above don't work and you still encounter a bear. You will probably never use it, but it is good insurance to carry. Bear spray is the most effective deterrent against bears, even above firearms, according to thorough research. On solo trips in bear country, I carry two cans.

    And contrary to popular belief, predatory bears are exceptionally rare (if you are going to worry about this, then you should not bike on roads or drive on highways - those risks are far greater).

    Some links to some good bear info:
    https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/mtn/ou...s-bears-people

    Visiting Parks - BC Parks - Province of British Columbia

  4. #4
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    Thank you - that's all great advice.

    Quick follow-up question. You mentioned that you carry two cans of bear spray with you, where/how do you carry them?


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  5. #5
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    I have ran into a lot of Black bears and most of them are very predictable. Yelling is probably the best deterrent. If you decide to carry bear spray then buy a extra can to try out before you go outdoors. In the excitement of a bear encounter you won't know what to do or you'll end up spraying yourself.
    I have seen this with fire extinguishers, when needed most people panic and can't even get them off the wall let alone use them.
    Wherever you ride, stop off at the LBS, they are usually the best spot for bear sightings and activity.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samo831 View Post
    Thank you - that's all great advice.

    Quick follow-up question. You mentioned that you carry two cans of bear spray with you, where/how do you carry them?
    I try to keep one on me at all times, so one in the side pouch of my backpack or in a SCAT belt if no backpack.

    The other goes on the bike, either in my handlebar bag or in a bottle cage (with this adapter).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dh024 View Post
    I try to keep one on me at all times, so one in the side pouch of my backpack or in a SCAT belt if no backpack.

    The other goes on the bike, either in my handlebar bag or in a bottle cage (with this adapter).
    Great - thank you


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samo831 View Post
    I'll be traveling around BC and a bit of Alberta for the next couple months (Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Whistler, Kelowna, Banff, Jasper, Revelstoke, Rossland, Fernie, Nelson, etc). I'll be mostly riding solo. Just curious how concerned I need to be about grizzly bears? I'm from Santa Cruz and we have mountain lions and great white sharks and a lot of visiting surfers and mountain bikers worry about them, but I never give it a second thought. However, grizzlys seem like a whole other ballgame. How common is it to run into them? Do locals worry about it?

    Any advice would be appreciated on how to be safe when riding solo.

    Thanks very much.


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    The real issue is the solo riding

    Find a group and join or just follow.....

    Otherwise lots of hooting and hollering...

    Solo you could end up spending a night out in some lonely places should you get injured.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    The real issue is the solo riding

    Find a group and join or just follow.....

    Otherwise lots of hooting and hollering...

    Solo you could end up spending a night out in some lonely places should you get injured.
    Any good resources for group rides other than local bike shops and MTB associations?


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  10. #10
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    I ride solo a ton in Fernie and I don't particularly worry about bears. We have bears, and I've seen bears - more black bears than grizzlies but have had occasion to see grizzlies as well. There's a ton of great information about how to avoid bear encounters and what to do if you see one. In general, they don't want any part of you, but a momma and cubs or a carcass definitely create more of a risk.

    In Fernie there are two good places to find out information about recent wildlife encounters, both on facebook. It is, however, important to note that bears are out there even if they haven't been seen. They can move in or out of an area very quickly.
    https://www.facebook.com/elkvalleybearaware/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1591680514481230/

    The second of those two pages is also a group where you can post questions about group rides, or ask if anyone can show you around.

    The best source for trail information in Fernie is on trailforks.com - get the iphone or android app if you don't already have it. Up to date trail conditions are on there and there are great descriptions for every trail in the Fernie area.

    Have a great trip.

  11. #11
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    Thanks scottg!


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  12. #12
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    Made an account just to reply to you.

    Never run from a bear. They can reach speeds of 50-60 km/hour - faster than can be biked down most paved declines. The links provided will probably describe how to handle an encounter.

    Don't climb trees, they can climb too.

    With the bear spray, make sure you know how to spray it before you go out. Do a test spray. If you need to use it on a bear, aim for their nose. It's better to spray too low than too high if you can't hit the nose.

    Like has been said before, don't startle them. I haven't read much about the best way to do this, but I've heard a lot of people recommend yelling frequently (just like in this thread).

    Finally, a lot of people are dismissive of black bears. They need to be taken just as seriously as grizzly bears. A person cannot win a fight with a black bear.

  13. #13
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    I'm in Calgary. I bike mostly at West Bragg Creek, the Moose Mountain area and Canmore (although I also bike frequently in Fernie and, on occasion, in Golden and Revy). Canmore is always a material risk for Grizz. ALWAYS, but especially right now.

    I carry bear spray on my sternum strap of my CamelBak (yeah - I know the risks...whatever). I also carry bear bangers in my pack. All this gear is inexpensive and readily available at MEC in Calgary and elsewhere.

    Shoot me a PM if you are around Calgary. At minimum, I will give you trail suggestions. If I am available and you wish, I'd be happy to be your trail guide and blast a few rides with you.

    As someone above mentioned, load and use Trailforks. It truly is a God send.

    And above all, have fun.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    I'm in Calgary. I bike mostly at West Bragg Creek, the Moose Mountain area and Canmore (although I also bike frequently in Fernie and, on occasion, in Golden and Revy). Canmore is always a material risk for Grizz. ALWAYS, but especially right now.

    I carry bear spray on my sternum strap of my CamelBak (yeah - I know the risks...whatever). I also carry bear bangers in my pack. All this gear is inexpensive and readily available at MEC in Calgary and elsewhere.

    Shoot me a PM if you are around Calgary. At minimum, I will give you trail suggestions. If I am available and you wish, I'd be happy to be your trail guide and blast a few rides with you.

    As someone above mentioned, load and use Trailforks. It truly is a God send.

    And above all, have fun.
    Thx mtnbkrmime! I'll be in Banff area in mid-Sept. I'll hit you up then. Would love a guide if you're free.


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samo831 View Post
    Thx mtnbkrmime! I'll be in Banff area in mid-Sept. I'll hit you up then. Would love a guide if you're free.


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    Ok. Try to give me as much notice as possible if you think of it, so I can avoid booking anything out of town for work during the time you are here. Best to PM me.

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