Black Bears are a fact of life at Killbear Provincial Park. For most park visitors, seeing a bear is an exciting experience. However, the excitement diminishes when that bear is rummaging through your cooler or tent, in search of food.
Bears are normally shy of humans and quickly get out of our way. However, if they've had luck finding food at campsites, some bears lose their fear and start visiting campsites looking for food left out by people. These "campsites bears can become persistent and destructive nuisances.
A Fed Bear = A Dead Bear
Capturing and relocating campsite bears has met with only limited success. Often, the only option is to destroy them. Keeping a scrupulously clean campsite is the best way to avoid having to do this.
How to Bear Proof Your Campsite:
Everyone camping in the park must store all food and animal attractants in a hard-sided vehicle/trailer/motor home (not a tent trailer) when not in use. Coolers are not bear proof!
Food and animal attractants are best stored in the trunk of your vehicle. In 2007 and 2008 a number of vehicles at Killbear had windows smashed by bears looking for coolers of food. If your vehicle does not have a trunk, place the food and animal attractants inside the vehicle cab and cover them with a blanket so that bears cannot see them. Make sure the windows are closed.
Remember you are sharing a protected ecosystem with bears, wolves, foxes and raccoons that rely on it for their survival. All are potentially dangerous animals and must not be attracted to your campsite.
The park has been educating campers for years about how to camp in bear country. Now the park has new legislation under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act Section 3(1) to force people to act properly. The act states: No Person shall maintain or store potential wildlife attractants, including food or beverages, food preparation or storage equipment, cooking devices or utensils, garbage or recycling products, scented products or any other item in a manner likely to attract wildlife. Violators are subject to a $125 fine and Park Wardens have evicted many campsites over the past 4 years.
Besides using their amazing sense of smell to find food, bears also use visual cues to find their food. Even empty coolers and unopened cans will attract bears. Wildlife attractants include: dog food dishes, BBQ’s, cookstoves, cardboard boxes and plastic storage totes. Even if your storage tote has never had food in it, your neighbour likely uses something similar to store food and a bear may investigate it.
At night people often leap to the conclusion that any noise they hear outside their tent is a black bear. Remember there are many more raccoons in Killbear than black bears and they are also on the lookout for an easy meal. Keeping your food safely away from bears will diminish the number of raccoons on your site.