Bear Watching

Klemtu is the community closest to the home of the elusive Spirit Bear, and a local cultural guide can escort you into areas where there have been sightings. You may travel to remote islands, valleys, streams and estuaries for a chance to spot this unique sub-species of the black bear, noted for its near-white coat. Guides in the community and with nearby camps and lodges know prime grizzly bear viewing areas, along with whale watching, kayaking and rainforest hikes.

The Bella Coola Valley also offers prime wildlife and grizzly viewing. Often, bears are seen wandering through town. If you prefer looking at life from the end of a paddle, consider a raft or drift-boat trip down the Atnarko River. Even without bears, there is a stunning mountain backdrop.

From Prince Rupert, you can take a float plane or boat trip to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, home to one of the largest concentrations of grizzly bears in North America. About 50 grizzlies have 450 sq km of protected wilderness here, which includes dense rainforest, a river mouth estuary, and ocean fjord. Other great bear viewing sites include Knight Inlet which is only a day trip from Telegraph Cove and Campbell River on Vancouver Island.

Viewing bears from river blinds

The best time to view the largest number of bears and cubs is when they feed on salmon. The annual salmon run starts around late August and peaks in September or October. Bears feed on large quantities of salmon during the run and are accompanied by bald eagles, gulls, ravens, and other fish-eating birds, as well as wolves. While the salmon run continues into December, many bears begin to move towards hibernation by the end of October.

People can safely view this abundance of activity from a space constructed at river’s edge that serves as a blind or hide. The typical viewing distance is from three-to-100 metres. Photographers can set up a tripod here. There are many viewing blinds and platforms situated near the most accessible spots on the river for wildlife to access.

For more information, visit Hello BC.

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