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Bears are waking up: A refresher course for hikers

It's the Easter long weekend and if you are planning to work off your chocolate hangover with a long walk through the mountains be wary of bears.

Warm weather this spring means the animals are out and about a bit earlier this year

Bears are waking up: a refresher course for hikers

7 years ago
1:18
Experts give their advice on what to do if you run into a bear in the backcountry. 1:18

It's the Easter long weekend and if you are planning to work off your chocolate hangover with a long walk through the mountains be wary of bears.

Typically big male bears emerge from hibernation around April 1, with females following four to six weeks after. But warm weather this spring means the animals are out and about a bit earlier this year.

Dave Stark, a spokesperson for Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, says when faced with a bear his advice is simple:

  • Don't run.
  • Stop and assess what's going on.
  • Don't panic.

Stark says bears rarely stalk people but there are a couple of scenarios where bears can become aggressive.

"They're usually guarding something — it may be an animal they've killed and they're feasting on it. Or they have cubs, so they feel threatened," he said.

Tyler McClure, a spokesperson for the Canmore-based conservation group WildSmart, says there are approximately 120 grizzlies and an equal number of black bears living in the Banff and Kananaskis area.

McClure advises hikers to travel in groups, carry bear spray and make lots of noise.

If you do meet a bear, and it's aware of your presence, McClure says you should talk to it in a calm voice and slowly back away.

"Odds are the bear is probably going to have the same reaction," he said.

For those wishing to know more about bear behaviour, April 11 is Bear Day at the Canmore Civic Centre.

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