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A grizzly encounter

30th August 2012

Have you ever seen a bear?

Bella Coola Valley is an isolated paradise, located within the central coast of British Columbia, Canada. It's natural beauty beckons nature lovers and bear-spotting tourists from all over the world. To be honest, journeying into the Bella Coola wilderness can be a little daunting, which is where a knowledgeable, local guide comes in handy...

Doug, a local bear expert from BC, knows exactly what to look for when going on a bear hunt.  (We're going on a bear hunt...we're going to catch a big one.) "These claw marks are fresh," he says as he inspects the scratches which cover half the trunk. "And here is a rubbing tree, can you see the fur?".

Doug knows all the tell-tale signs that a bear is nearby, and loves sharing his favourites, like finding the carcass of a freshly devoured salmon or the large impressions on the forest floor which signify where a bear has recently slept.

Kenny is another Bella Coola local who is similarly as comfortable with the big, brown creatures. He works at the Tweedsmuir Park lodge and has become so familiar with bears, he has to remind himself that not everyone is accustomed to seeing them, let alone feels comfortable being near them.

"When you grow up here, with bears in your backyard everyday, you are amazed that people come from all over the world to see them," he says.

Kenny frequently floats down the park lodge river in a drift boat, which he claims the bears ignore. He barely bats an eyelid when he spots a 160 kilogram sow digging in the dirt just 15 metres away. It's as if the grizzly bear, in all its fierce glory, is just a common backyard critter.

Well, to Kenny, she is exactly that.


- Travel Associates

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