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Bears in Whistler - Your Complete Guide

One of the most beautiful things about visiting Whistler is that you get to spend some time in nature. The mountains dominate the landscape, while rainforests and lakes are found throughout the valley. This wilderness makes Whistler a natural place for skiing and biking, but its also home for lots of wildlife. Eagles, beavers, marmots and salmon all call this part of the world home. But our largest neighbours, bears, are by far our most popular. This guide will teach you all you need to know about bears in Whistler.

Types of Bears in Whistler

Bears in Whistler

Mother and cub playing in the grass. - Justa Jeskova

The two most common types of bears in Canada are the grizzly bear and black bear. Grizzly bears are the larger of the two and are known to be more aggressive. Thankfully, these bears make their homes in the remote parts and far north of Canada which means there are none in Whistler. Instead, we have lots of black bears here! Black bears are smaller than grizzlies, they can have black, brown or even white fur. The majority of their diet is made up of grass, berries and fruit, but if they get the opportunity they’ll happily dine on some fresh fish from the river.

There are roughly 50 black bears in Whistler and they live in the forests and mountains surrounding the village. During the summer bears are active at dawn and dusk as they venture out to look for food. In winter they hibernate in bear dens and wait for the winter months to pass. During this hibernation, they actually wake up every few days to eat their stored food and raise their body temperature.

Bear Safety

Whistler Bears

A truly majestic animal. - Chad Chomlack

When it comes to bear safety here in Whistler, we take things very seriously. These beautiful animals are very sacred to us, so we must act appropriately when near them. If you act recklessly around them you will be endangering their lives.

View from a distance. If you do happen to see a bear it is very important that you do no approach it. And never, ever feed bears or leave food somewhere they might be able to access it. If a bear is fed by humans and becomes accustomed to us and it may have to be destroyed for everyone’s safety.

whistler bear safety

Black bear snacking on some grass. - Justa Jeskova

If a bear does approach you it is important to remain calm. Speak to it calmly and slowly move to the side giving the bear an escape route. Do not look it in the eyes and please don’t run! This may encourage the bear to chase you and they are much faster than humans. 

In the incredibly rare instance that a bear becomes aggressive to a human, it is best to be active rather than passive. Make yourself big and try to make loud noises. If a bear attacks do not climb a tree and do not play dead. These methods are not useful and may actually put you at a greater risk.

Best Places to See Bears in Whistler

where to see bears in whistler

A bear family playing in the trees. - Michael Allen

Bears are shy animals. They like to remain hidden and often get spooked when they see people. This can make seeing them quite challenging. They are early risers, often getting up before sunrise and looking for food. They are frequently seen on many of our wonderful golf courses here as they tend to have lots of plants that they like to munch on! 

Some families of bears live on Whistler Mountain and share their homes with areas near Whistler Mountain Bike Park. If you’re in town to check out this world-class facility, make sure you keep your eyes peeled when you’re on the chairlift.

If you want to give yourself the best chance possible of seeing some of these majestic creatures, there’s no better way than going on a bear viewing tour. Whistler Blackcomb are experts at conducting safe bear viewing tours. You’ll drive up into the mountains in a rugged 4x4 with experienced guides who know the mountains like the back of their hands.

So come book a stay with us here in wonderful Whistler and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of a bear!