Adventure Travel: Black Bears
For many people, their affection for bears began as young children when their mothers read to them The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – also known as Edward Bear. This fondness for bears grew when they received their first snuggly toy bear. In fact, the Teddy Bear was named after a black bear cub that was the pet of Theodor Roosevelt and it is these types of bears that people most often encounter in the wild.
Black Bear Behavior
In order to see a black bear in its natural environment, it is important to first learn something about the behavior of these typically shy creatures. The soft padding on their feet combined with their incredibly sensitive hearing allows them to retreat before people are even aware that a bear is nearby.
The black bear may then move down wind in order to use its sense of smell to assess the danger. It’s this sense of smell which also allows black bears to locate their preferred foods: fruit, nuts, plants and insect larvae.
Although black bears possess the teeth, claws, strength and size that make them look like predators; they rarely catch anything larger than an insect. They primarily use their teeth for tearing into insect-ridden logs and their claws are designed to enable them to climb a tree almost as quickly as a squirrel.
Where to find Black Bears
Black bears live in forests throughout much of North America. A quick internet search on black bears in your area is sure to provide the necessary trail information. In Washington State the Pacific Crest Trail is in bear country. In Minnesota the American Bear Association Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary provides an open viewing area as well as guided tours.
Agencies that provide Guided Tours
Regardless of where you live, it is likely that arranging a guided tour with the local forest ranger is possible.
In addition, for those who wish to experience bears up close without negatively impacting their environment, an ecotour company may be the best option.
Creative Western Adventures LTD Creative Western in Calgary, Alberta Canada offers a wide assortment of ecotours including a 6 day/5 night bear watching expedition for $1400 US dollars. You will journey through the Rocky Mountain foothills of Calgary primarily on foot, although horses are used to gain access to bear habitat when appropriate. This trip will not only allow you to learn about bears, but also to join experts from the University of Calgary and participate in field research.
Another option is to take the Black and White Bear Adventure Tour offered by Canada Your Way. This 9 day/10 night journey costs approximately $4600 US dollars. This tour takes place in Manitoba, Canada and combines opportunities to photograph black bears as well as polar. In addition, this trip includes a ½ day of dog sledding!
Alaskan Adventure Unlimited Gordon's Guide offers one day tours for $249, a mini 2 day/3 night tour for $1299 in addition to their longer 10 day/9 night tour.