Biking, wildlife and bear spray
By Danica Roussy
Bear spray has been determined to be an effective deterrent that can reduce injury and potentially safe your life. Like a seat belt, it should be considered essential safety equipment when travelling in wildlife country.
The safest wildlife encounter is one prevented. It is important to understand the probability of encounter for both the area and for the time you will be recreating in an area. If possible, time your visit to the area to minimize the possibility of an encounter: e.g. if you want to go biking in an area where you know there is a good berry crop, try to time your bike ride through the area before or after the berry crop, or if you need to be there when berries are in season try to be in the area during the heat of the day and when bears are more likely to be sleeping in a cooler area.
Having bear spray accessible and knowing how to use it will give you the confidence to do the right thing. Mountain bikers in bear country should carry bear spray on a holster on their body and not their bike. Mountain bikers moving at a high rate of speed can potentially surprise bears on paths where sight-lines are poor.
Remember to be vigilant and make noise by occasionally calling out and clapping your hands when off your bike. Be cautious when travelling downwind or near moving water. If animals cannot smell or hear you, they may be surprised, and this can lead to a defensive attack.
If you encounter a bear, stay calm, do not yell, scream or run as this may trigger an attack. If the bear sees you, speak in a low calm voice to let the bear know you are human, back away slowly and leave the bear an escape route.
For more information on wildlife and safety or if you need a refresher on how to use bear spray watch our short bear spray video.
Follow us on Facebook, WildSafeBC Kimberley-Cranbrook or contact [email protected] to find out about educational opportunities coming up while practicing social distancing. If you have human/wildlife conflict to report: please call the 24-hour Conservation Officer RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277.
Above images: WildSafeBC Elk-Valley Community Coordinator Kathy Murray showing how she carries bear spray when mountain biking. WildSafeBC Photo
Danica Roussy is Kimberley/Cranbrook WildSafeBC Community Coordinator