Wildlife Wisdom: Tips for Encounters with Animals Ashore

If on your visit ashore you anticipate an encounter with large wild animals, know the times, seasons, and places that require special caution. Consult local officials when possible.


Wildlife flourishes, bot at sea and ashore. In our Canadian Pacific travels, we spotted countless bald eagles, antlered moose, and, when lucky, the occasional bear.Diana Simon

• Time: Bears can be nocturnal and become dangerously confident in the dark. Plan to be back onboard by dusk.
• Season: A 1400-pound male moose in the heat of the rut is a testosterone driven wrecking machine. Avoid.

• Place: A bear in a patch of ripened huckleberries or in a prime fishing spot is territorially defensive, thus best given wide berth.

• A surprised animal is a dangerous animal. Signal your presence. Wear bear bells and/or make periodic chatter to make clear your presence and direction of travel.

• Large or small, all animals in the wild are just that—wild. Respect their space. Give at least a 300-foot leeway to bears and moose, and always leave them with a clear escape route.

• Immediately retreat towards your outbound direction if you spot a bear cub or moose fawn.

• Immediately leave the area if you come across a fresh animal carcass or one covered by dirt, leaves, and branches. This is a bear or cougar cache and the proprietor is seldom far away.

• If confronted by a bear do not turn and run. Bears will often make a “mock charge.” Hold your ground. Make yourself look large by opening your coat or extending your arms. If in a group, do not huddle but spread out in a line with arms out. Back away slowly, avoiding direct eye contact.

• If an attack seems imminent, use your bear spray liberally. (Be sure it is within its use-by date.)

• If attacked, asses the nature of the confrontation—defensive or predatory, for this will determine your best response. For a defensive attack (usually the case with a grizzly bear or a bear with cubs present) roll onto your stomach presenting your backpack to the aggressor. Cover your head and neck with your arms and play dead. Do not fight back.

• If a black bear that has no cubs present and has not been obviously disturbed continues to approach, assume this is a predatory attack. You must fight back as aggressively as possible to deter the animal.