Once I gave up hope, I saw them! I saw a black bear with her two cubs.
Last summer, I took a kayaking trip to Sechelt Inlet with the hope of seeing black bears in the wild. On the paddle there, breathing in the sea salt air, passing oyster farms, I was on constant lookout as we travelled along the shore. We set up camp, settled in, but there were no wild animals visible. The next day, bear spray in hand and making noises during our hike (to scare off any potential bears), we spotted markings of a bear being in the area via foot prints and droppings but no sightings were made. Although we enjoyed our hikes and campfires, we saw limited wild life: a seal, and various birds. We packed up, put the kayak in the water, and my hope of seeing wildlife on the way home increased as my friends had spotted bears along the water’s edge in Sechelt Inlet. I hoped we would be lucky and spot them too.
As we started paddling back, we were going against the wind. Sweating, paddling hard we hugged the coast line for shelter as we made our way back. We were almost there when I said to my friend, “Even though we didn’t spot any bears, this was still a great trip.” Two minutes after the words left my lips, we saw them, a couple of meters away, a mother and two baby cubs! I was startled as to how close we were to them. We caught their attention so we started to back paddle to give them space. Once the mother bear took notice of us, she didn’t want to be by the seaweed covered rocks by the water. Mother bear with cubs in tow started their climb upwards on the whitish grey rocks. We lost sight of them between the rocks and trees temporarily. The cubs were jumping around and playing as the mother watched on, always keeping an eye on them as they foraged for food.
We spent under an hour watching them play, jump on each other and explore. Their strength and agility amazed me. All concerns vanished as my focus was on watching the bears in their natural habitat. Once they left our sight line, I took a deep breath and pinched myself. Spending this amount of time, safe watching from a kayak exceeded my expectations. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of a black bear in the wild however watching them for this long was a definite high. My experienced kayaker friend was amazed as well. He has seen numerous bears in the wild during his adventures but this sighting was a highlight.
Even though, I’ve always wanted to see a bear in the wild, I want to safe. I don’t want to put myself or them in danger. Unfortunately, humans can attract bears by leaving out food or startling them. Seeing a bear can be scary and exciting but if you know what to do, you can stay safe. Check out this post from Parks Canada, Bears in the Mountain National Parks for more information!
I was able to get some footage of them, please see the video below:
Have you seen black bears in the wild?