A Guide to the Bears – Be Bear Aware in Whistler

May 1, 2023

Prepare for a safe and respectful coexistence with Whistler’s black bears this summer. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind while sharing the landscape with these furry neighbors.

As the seasons change and the snow melts away, Whistler’s bears are emerging from hibernation and venturing into town in search of fresh greens. With warmer temperatures and longer days, encounters with these furry neighbors are more likely, especially on golf courses, trails, and near Whistler Blackcomb. To ensure a respectful coexistence with the bears, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Your Guide to Whistler’s Bears

The most common type of bear in British Columbia is the black bear, which can have black, brown, or even white fur. Approximately 50 resident black bears are believed to live in and around Whistler. These forest gurus are excellent tree climbers and master fishermen who live a simple life lounging in grass and enjoying fresh berries. They are also more adapted to living amongst humans than the Grizzly bear, which populates some of Whistler’s more remote locations.

Whistler Black Bears

Black Bear

Bear Safety in Whistler

With the large amount of snow still lingering on the mountains and close proximity to residential areas, bears may come closer to town in search of food. Spring and summer are peak times for human and bear encounters as bears search for nutritious food sources and explore new habitats. To ensure everyone’s safety, it’s important to educate yourself and others about bear safety. Visit the Bear Smart website for tips and best practices. It’s also crucial to keep your home free of bear attractants and dispose of garbage in a bear-proof manner.

Give Whistler’s Bears Some Space

If you encounter a bear while walking your dog or near your vacation rental, it’s important to keep a safe distance and give them space to graze. When hiking, it’s recommended to do so in groups, be loud, and carry bear spray. Never interact with bear cubs, as this can be seen as a threat by the mother bear.


Whistler Black Bear

Black Bear

Best Ways to View Bears in Whistler

If you’re interested in viewing bears from a safe distance you can join a Bear Viewing Tour, which takes you to active feeding sites, daybeds, and dens used for hibernation during winter months. To book a tour, contact our Concierge Team.Whistler’s wildlife is part of the charm of visiting, but it’s essential to be respectful of the bears’ natural habitat.

Remember these tips and enjoy your time in Whistler!

Black Bear or Grizzly Bear?

Black bears and grizzly bears are two species of bears found in North America. While they share some similarities in appearance, there are a few key differences that can help you identify them.

  1. Size: Grizzly bears are generally larger than black bears. Adult male grizzlies can weigh up to 600 pounds, while adult male black bears typically weigh around 300 pounds. However, there is some overlap in size, so this is not always a reliable indicator.
  2. Shoulder hump: Grizzly bears have a distinctive hump of muscle on their shoulders, which black bears do not have. This hump is particularly noticeable in adult male grizzlies.
  3. Face shape: Grizzly bears have a concave or “dished” profile to their face, while black bears have a straighter profile. This can be a helpful distinguishing feature when looking at pictures of the two species.
  4. Claw length: Grizzly bears have longer claws than black bears, which they use for digging and rooting for food. Black bear claws are shorter and better adapted for climbing trees.
  5. Fur color: Black bears are typically black, but they can also be brown, cinnamon, or even white. Grizzly bears are typically brown, but can also be blonde or black.

Black Bear Vs Grizzly Bear

It’s important to note that some individual bears may not fit neatly into these categories, and that it can be difficult to tell the difference between black bears and young grizzlies. If you are in an area where both species are present, it’s always a good idea to take precautions and assume that any bear you encounter could be dangerous.

Grizzly Bear in Whistler

Grizzly Bear