Grin and bear it

A safety guide for Kitimat camping, especially in those areas where the "locals" aren't always friendly

Visitors to Kitimat should always remember there’s a large local black bear population and, although less numerous, grizzly bears also frequent the area. Campsites, with their food and cooking smells and garbage, are very attractive. So it’s not unusual for campsites to receive visits from hungry – or just plain curious – bears. That means “Bear Aware” is a necessary approach in every campsite. The following are a few simple common sense rules that can reduce the risk of a confrontation.

  • Don’t provide an attraction to bears by leaving food unattended on the picnic tables. Ensure coolers, barbecues and other cooking utensils are kept in safe storage.
  • Store food in your camper or in the trunk of your vehicle in airtight containers.
  • Cooking or eating inside a tent could be an invitation to a hungry bear to join you.
  • Respect bears and never feed them.
  • Use a flashlight when moving about your campsite after dark.

Of course, your selected fishing hole may also be a bruin’s favourite spot as well. Believe it or not, there have in the past been instances of some anglers refusing to give ground when a bear showed up on the gravel beach where they were fishing. As the conservation officer pointed out at the time, the bear is only doing what comes naturally. He accordingly advised people to move on and let it do just that. Good advice, because no-one wins an argument with a bear about who was there first. When walking trails, whether fishing or hiking, be sure to make noise – whistle, talk or carry noisemakers such as bells. Most bears will leave if aware of your presence. Also keep an eye open for “evidence” of a bear’s passing. And be especially alert when travelling into the wind – a bear may not get your scent and be warned of your presence. Bear attacks are extremely rare around here. And a few sensible precautions will ensure they stay that way.