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bear safety in British Columbia/Alberta

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bear safety in British Columbia/Alberta

Hi
So I am about to embark on a cross Canada tour, but I'm intending on going via revelstoke, then through golden and up highway 93.
I was wondering if anyone had some advice on bear safety? I will be carrying panniers and either camping or hostelling/warmshowers. The food canisters I've found so far are massive and expensive, so I was wondering if people could tell me what options they use? Is there somewhere I can find a smaller canister? Or will there likely be bearproof food bins available at campsites?
Any advice very much appreciated!
Thanks in advance!
Harriet

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Citronella

I can't add more to the usual advice - get a bell (to ring if you think bears are around so you don't surprise them when going round a corner in a remote area), take bear spray, keep food/cosmetics well away from your tent, etc.

The one additional thing is not to do what I did on the Great Divide trail. I religiously washed my lycra pants every night and hung them on my tent to dry while I slept. When I left bear country, I was reading a magazine quoting the latest research on bears. It turns out that one thing that really attracts them is anything with a citronella base. I sniffed the expensive laundry fluid I'd been using and.... yes.... the unmistakeable citronella smell. I'd been hanging it like a flag over my tent every night. Fortunately, I survived. I suspect my socks acted as a counter-attraction.

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Hi Herriet, I'm french and

Hi Herriet,

I'm french and I'll start crossing Canada on my bike from 8th May to October.
What I can tell you about safety instructions with bears are :
- not to sleep in your tent with foods or hygiene products (hang on in a tree or put them in a special box in area camping)
- always have a bear spray with you
- make noise when you hike or on your bicycle
- if you are in front of a bear don't run. Speak with the bear to reassure him
- if a bear attack you make the dead woman lengthened on the road stomach on the ground

I wish you to have fun during your trip and perhaps we will meet together on the road

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Bears want nothing to do with you

Carry the spray (it is mostly for your own confidence)
You won't need the spray.
I carry a train whistle with which to notify the bears of my approach.
An air horn is good also.
When the bear notices you (their eyesight is as bad as mine so the audio warning is best) the bear or bears will decide how annoying you are and leave accordingly.
If you want to see bears (and other critters) then you should ride in the early morning or in the evening when there is not much motorized traffic.

Camping
Official camp grounds usually have a place to keep your food and bears are discouraged from hanging around.
Food or anything that has come in contact with food or that smells good is kept well away from where you sleep and hoisted up something high if something is available. My pedal wrench has some cord wrapped around it for this purpose. Don't cook or eat at your tent.
The bears want nothing to do with you but they do want your food.
Hopefully helpfully,
Don Mylan

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All the rest of the advice

All the rest of the advice given is sound. Keep food containers sealed and clean on the outside to avoid odours in the first place. What we did in one case (Rogers Pass, 1991) was to hide our food pack in the bottom of a bear-proof garbage can. We openned the lid, pulled out the garbage bag, put our food pack in the bottom, re-installed the garbage bag, then closed the lid. Reverse process in the morning. Otherwise, use rope as described to hang a food pack on a branch away from the trunk of a tree out of reach of bears (at least 3m, 10ft, if not more).

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Bears

Hi Harriet - I cycled that route a few years back, and encountered 16 bears, including a mother bear with 3 cubs! Regarding food, all I did was to keep one pannier only with food, soap, toothpaste, deoderent - anything with a scent. When camping wild, I used a 3/16th" (4mm) rope which I threw over a high tree branch, then hauled up the food pannier. I had no problems. Take a black garbage bag with you, and if using a campsite without bear-proof storage, put the food pannier into the black garbage bag and use the camp's bear proof garbage containers last thing at night. Sometimes you can push aside the container's liner and put your bag between the bin and its liner. Tie a label to your bag identifying it as yours in temporary bear proof storage.

Black bears have a habit of feeding in ditches alongside the road so you cannot see them in advance. Then as you get close, they hear you and stand up. Don't change your pace, simply talk to the bear which, being curious, will spend a few seconds trying to figure out what you are - by which time you have passed them. You can also buy an aerosol bear spray which should be carried readily accessable. I did not encounter any grizzlies, but did meet another cyclist who did. The big risk is getting yourself between a mother bear and her cubs!

At one campsite, I had erected my tent, then ate my dinner sat at a picnic table. Stood up to stretch my legs while holding my dessert muffin. Turned around and there was a big black bear not 5 metres away eyeing my muffin - my bear spray was in the tent! Immediately our eyes made contact, I shouted and charged the bear which ran away! If I had given him the muffin, he would have around all night looking for more!

Enjoy the ride!

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Hi everyone Thank you so much

Hi everyone

Thank you so much for the sound advice. Really good to hear from people's own experiences with bear encounters/tours. There's only so much I can glean from general websites!

This has been my main concern for this trip so I really appreciate all your help!

Thanks again!
Harriet

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