There’s a bear out there … and a moose as well …

I hope I’ve prompted at least a few of our readers to hum the ‘Play School’ theme song to themselves. Ha!

We’ve seen quite a few bears and moose now, plus assorted other critters, and I want to write down what we’ve learnt before I forget what we’ve been advised to do when we encounter something furry and potentially dangerous.

The rangers at Exit Glacier and Denali all spent a lot of time educating campers about the safest ways to interact with wildlife. Bears tend to want food, toiletries and other highly perfumed stuff and are usually not aggressive towards people, unless you accidentally get between a mother bear and her cub, or you’re near a bear’s kill site. In both cases the best thing to do is get away, fast.  Generally it’s a good idea to keep a distance of a few hundred metres between oneself and a bear – we’ve only seen them from the safety of our car or a bus, thankfully. We have bear spray that we take when we go walking, and keep at the door of our tent in case one decides to pay us a nocturnal visit. We keep all our food, toiletries and rubbish in the car overnight when we camp, or in the food lockers provided at some campgrounds. When walking, it’s best to make some noise so that any nearby bears know you’re around and don’t get a surprise if you get to close to them. A few people in Denali had ‘bear bells’ attached to their packs – very annoying and ineffective anyway. At best the bears ignore the bells, and in some places they have learnt to regard them as dinner bells.

So – making noise, standing up tall and looking big, talking in a loud voice are all good tactics to use if a bear is looking interested in you. If one decides to get too close, either lie down and ‘play dead’, or use bear spray if you’re carrying it and the bear is within 10 metres.

Ranger Kara at Wonder Lake told us a funny story about a woman who ‘played dead’ when a bear was about 100 metres away from her. The bear wandered up her, lay down beside her and fell asleep!

Moose seem to be more scary to me. They can charge without any provocation, on those skinny spindly legs with that huge body on top. The general advice is to keep a distance of at least 25 metres, and if one does charge or even just notices you, hide behind a tree or other large solid object, or run away in a zig-zag kind of pattern. Moose can’t change direction quickly.

No other big, scary, furry creatures to worry about …. so far. We just get excited when we see any wildlife – eagles, falcons, ptarmigans, elk, caribou, fox, gopher, bears, moose and even squirrels. A woman on the Inside Passage ferry trip told me that her first meal at her in-laws place in Arkansas was Squirrel & Dumplings, so now I look at squirrels a bit differently than I used to. I think it must have been a different type of squirrel though. The ones we have seen look tiny!

Dinner sitting in a tree, unfortunately out of reach.

Dinner sitting in a tree, unfortunately out of reach.

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12 Responses to There’s a bear out there … and a moose as well …

  1. Wendy and Trevor Harris says:

    Hi Judy & Greg
    Thankyou for blogging your great trip, its bringing back so many fantastic memories of our trip over there in May /June. The comment you made in above blog made me smile ,I said to Trevor ‘we are not the only one’s who get excited to see the wild animals’ . Stay safe and will be watching your blog, Thanks to Christine Britton for sending us your link. Wendy

    • Judy says:

      Hi Wendy and Trevor, I loved the bear photo you shared on your FB page. Where did you travel to on your holiday? Thanks for visiting our blog! J xx

  2. ron says:

    great reporting what I would like to know say you had caught the squirrel who would have rung its neck and skinned it I think that is what they used to use for Dave Crockett hat here I go again we brought one in Canada in 79 Glaciers are a sight to behold in fact the whole county is some place to visit it does not appear to be a great number of campers when it is there so called good weather just to think you can camper any where in this great country of ours and dont have to worry about a thing Aussie talking the same as a Kiwi I dont think so .enjoy the heat wave I hope there is a heat wave when you return it has been so cold here.

    • Judy says:

      Didn’t Davey Crockett have a raccoon/coonskin hat? I remember it had a stripey tail. You’re right, not many campers, but I think that might all change when we get to Jasper/Lake Louise/Banff. Tent campers are a minority, most people seem to go for RVs, quite a few of them with generators (eyeroll). The size of some of those rigs limits where they can go, which is fine with us – we can tuck ourselves into an out-of-the-way corner

  3. Margaret & Derick Smith says:

    Hi Judy and Greg . Most of the squirrels we saw in Canada ,and we saw lots , were black. You are so brave to be camping in those places . The only time I have camped was with Fay . We were 17 years old and we cycled to Herne Bay in Kent and didn’t have all the mod cons you have . Have a good time in BC as my family ,who live there tell me the weather is great at this time xx

    • Judy says:

      We’ve certainly got all the gear to camp confortably. Yes, weather here is gorgeous at the moment. Must look out for black squirrels, have only seen little brown ones so far. xx

  4. Margaret Smith says:

    Look out for little Chipmonks on your travels. The only place we have ever seen them was in Canada. Quite like some of the warm weather ,it’s been quite cool here for the last couple of days . Enjoy you day xx

    • Judy says:

      It’s getting warmer for us as we head further south. Although there was ice on the car this morning, but that probably had something to do with us camping right opposite the Columbia Icefields and the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park. We’re south of Calgary now, and I noticed the temp this afternoon was 29C

      • Margaret & Derick Smith says:

        It snowed the first time we were there on the Ice fields we had been in shorts and t/shirts so quickly had to change into warmer clothes. Have also been in the sunshine . xx

  5. Harry says:

    Please invite me over for squirrel and dumplings when you both get home I will bring the prairie oysters

    • Judy says:

      Hey Harry! Might be difficult to catch enough squirrels to make a meal, but there’s a place for you and your lovely wife at Thanksgiving at our place on the last Saturday in November. Deep fried turkey and pulled pork. And Greg’s mum’s (that should really be mom’s shouldn’t it?) Apple Pie. xx

  6. Margaret & Derick Smith says:

    Derick was watching a cookery programme only yesterday and they were doing pulled pork Judy . We don’t have that here. Now I know why Greg likes apple pie (Mums cooking perhaps ) x

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