One of the most common things people want to see when they come to Whistler is a bear. These cute and coveted creatures are iconic in Whistler and a photo of, or an encounter with a bear is on many people’s bucket list. Seeing a bear in Whistler certainly isn’t a rarity. Ask any local and they will tell you a story about a bear strolling through the Village, rummaging through their garbage cans or grazing casually on the golf course grounds. The Whistler Community for the most part peacefully exists with bears and due the community’s bear smart nature life is pretty good in Whistler for the human and the furry occupants.
As a community that loves and respects all of our wildlife (including our bears), here is what visitors should know about our local bear population.
There are over 50 bears that call Whistler home, vastly outnumbered by the 10,000 year round residents and over two million annual visitors. If your hoping to spot a grizzly bear while in Whistler we’re sorry to tell you that they don’t usually inhabit the Sea to Sky Region. Whistler is black bear habitat and you can spot a black bear by its brownish muzzle and hair varying from shades of dark black to cinnamon red. Adult black bears can range from 50gk to 270kg with females generally smaller than males.
Black bears are not confrontational by nature however when frightened or protecting their young can become aggressive. Bears prefer forest habitat however will rummage for food in areas occupied my humans if they are hungry. This is more common in early spring and late autumn, when berries and vegetation in the forests are scarce.
As a visitor to Whistler there is lots you can do to help protect the bear population in Whistler while still snapping your glory shot if you wish. Securely disposing of your garbage is of extreme importance as bears have a strong sense of smell and may be lured into populated areas by the scent of something tasty (which is not part of their regular diet).
Keeping your distance from bears is essential, especially if they have cubs present. If you wish to take a photo, keep a safe distance and never try to pet or feed a bear. When driving in and around Whistler, beware that bears may be present on the road, and use your due diligence.
If you do suddenly encounter a bear stand your ground, back away slowly and talk in a calm voice. Most importantly, never run! This could trigger a bear’s natural fight or flight response.
Some greats spots for bear viewing in Whistler include the Peak to Peak Gondola- sometimes you can spot multiple bears on the Valley floor. The golf course is a common place to sight a bear and keep your eyes peeled on grassy patches on the side of the road as you’re driving to and from Whistler.
If you want any more information on the bear population in Whistler, the Bear Smart Society has created an information document especially for visitors to the region. So get your camera ready, but keep your distance; March to November is officially bear season in Whistler!