Friday, September 23, 2011

Trying To Be Smarter Then A Bear

Karelian Bear Shepherding Institute of Canada
Instead of being out in the wild today, I spent half of the day learning how to be safe out in the wild with bears.  This workshop was sponsored by COAC, was presented by the Karelian Bear Shepherding Institute of Canada, with Jay Honeyman as our instructor.  The workshop started with him informing us of bear populations in different areas of Alberta, he covered how to differentiate between black bears and grizzly bears, identifying the various bear behaviors and how to react to each, plus the numerous bear repellent products.  The workshop ended outside where we learned the proper technique for deploying bear repellent from a canister.  We practiced this technique using a bear spray canister that was filled with an inert compound.

A Few Statistical Take-Aways

June 2010 Grizzly Bear population declared at a threatened status.
Bear population needs to reach 1000 to not be considered threatened.
Female bears mean range is 520 square kms compared to 1405 for males.

A Few Behavioral Take-Aways

Grizzly bears mate every 4 to 5 years.
Black bears return to the den in October.
Females with cubs are the last to come out of the den.
Grizzly bears mate between May and July.

A Few Distinct Visual Take-Aways

Grizzly bear toes are further from the foot pad then black bear toes.
Male grizzly weights between 300 and 600 pounds.
Female black bear weights between 100 and 200 pounds.

We came away with lots more information to help us make wise decisions when out playing in bear territory.  While all these facts, figures and additional new knowledge may not make me smarter then a bear, it does boost my level of confidence that I can contribute to a positive outcome if any encounters take place.
This workshop was timely as tomorrow I am heading into an area of Banff National Park where it is illegal at this time of year to hike with less then four people in a group because of bear activity that is taking place and for the high probability of an encounter.  

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great workshop to take! In my only bear encounter the person at the front of the pack ran screaming back down the trail, "Bear! Bear!" Um, I'm pretty sure that is the wrong reaction, but that being said, I'm not sure what the right one is. Hope you are having a great hike!


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