Black Bear

The Black Bear (Ursus americanus) is the smallest and most widespread of the 3 North American bears. Although endemic to North America unlike the other two, the Black Bear is by far the most numerous bear on the planet with an estimated population of 700,000, over half of which are found in Canada. This roughly equates to 10 Black Bears for every 1 Grizzly Bear in North America.

On a Wildlife Trails tour Black Bears can be seen in their natural habitat throughout spring, summer, and fall on Vancouver Island and in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. In September and October you can also see Spirit Bears on a group of islands off the Central Coast of British Columbia.

Like its cousin the Grizzly Bear, the Black Bear is a true omnivore, though very much at the vegetarian end of the scale. Fruit, nuts, berries, and roots make up the bulk of its diet, though carrion, insects, honey, fish, and small mammals also feature. It is predominately solitary animal, but highly intelligent and adaptable which has allowed it to cope more successfully with human encroachment than the grizzly. Its woodland range still extends from Canada and Alaska in the North, through much of the 48 contiguous United States, to Northern Mexico in the south. It is a highly skilled opportunist able to thrive even in some urban areas which has lead to it gaining a somewhat unwarranted reputation as a campsite raider and “nuisance bear”. Possessed of great curiosity, resourcefulness, and excellent memory, Black Bears have been known to open door latches, unscrew jar lids, and even recognize specific vehicles and uniforms. It is also highly agile, an excellent climber, and capable of running at 25mph.

Adult Black Bears generally weigh 175-500 pounds (80-225 kilos) and live for 18 years in the wild , though some have been known to exceed 30. Females reach maturity between 4 & 5, with males a year later. Mating normally takes place in June and July with implantation being delayed until October or November as with other bears. After a 70 day gestation period females give birth to 1-5 cubs in a winter den, around 225 days after copulation. The cubs are born naked and blind, and weighing only half a pound (225 grams). They are weaned in July or September of their first year, but stay with their mother through a second winter.

Probably the biggest misconception about Black Bears is that they are black. Like grizzlies they exhibit incredible colour variation, ranging from blond to cinnamon to jet black. Stereotypical colouration is dark brown to black with a tan muzzle. On a group off islands off the Central Coast of British Columbia there is a unique population of Black Bears of which one in every ten is white, a fabled Spirit Bear. These bears are not albinos, but rather the product of 2 parents both possessing a regressive white gene, and have long been of special spiritual significance to Native North Americans.

Sadly, Black Bears are still legally killed by trophy hunters in North America, but the biggest threat to this beguiling animal is widespread poaching and illegal hunting to meet the insatiable demand for bear gall bladders and paws in the traditional Far East medicine markets.

Vancouver Island Bear Watching Tour

A visit to Vancouver Island really showcases the sheer diversity of wildlife, both marine and terrestrial, found in the Pacific Northwest, and offers plenty of varied wildlife activities at a very affordable price. About 300 miles long and 70 miles wide, the best and most cost effective option to explore the island is a self-drive tour which gives you the freedom to visit multiple locations and fully experience all that it has to offer. The northeast of the island offers easy access to both Johnstone Strait, the best place in the world to see Orcas in the wild (as well as Humpback Whales), and the remote coastal inlets on the adjacent mainland where Grizzly Bears still maintain a stronghold, far from any human encroachment. The rugged west coast of the island is on the annual migration route of the Gray Whale, large numbers of which pass by off the coast en-route from Mexico to Alaska, and is also one of the best places in North America to see Black Bears. Sightings of Humpback Whales and Sea Otters are also possible off the west coast, and Bald Eagles and Sea Lions are more or less a certainty. The popular seaside community of Tofino on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island is a great destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Besides the excellent black bear watching tours and whale watchign trips, there are many other outdoor activities which you can book direct, or just enjoy walking the famous Wild Pacific trail.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 7
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£1200
Unique Canadian Habitats

A lot of what we design here at Wildlife Trails is unique, wildlife focused and tailored around our travellers aspirations. However, this wilderness journey which takes you from marine, to river and finally mountains habitat is right up there with the most diverse and compelling offers for our Canada wildlife holidays. We kick off the tour with a bang, as as well as the scenic flight into Bella Coola and the incredible surrounding mountains, you then have the sea air in your lungs as you take a boat transfer from the harbour across to the historic Tallheo Cannery. A semi-private marine wildlife tour here is followed by some incredible brown bear encounters at the Great Bear Chaket, before you drive up to Nimpo Lake and fly into Nuk Tessli lodge. A superb Canada wildlife tour for those interested in wilderness and the path less travelled.

Style - Wildlife Adventurer
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 11
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£3950
Sea Otters and Bears of Vancouver Island

You can’t beat Vancouver Island for that beautiful combination of wildlife diversity and value for money. This Canada wildlife holiday takes you away from some of the larger towns and focuses on smaller communities and small group or private wildlife activities. The focus out of Campbell River will be a small boat grizzly bear safari to the spectacular inlets on the main BC coast, where brown bears will be feasting on the annual salmon run. This is also a good area for Orcas and Whales and because there is a maximum of 6 people permitted in the boat, your expert naturalist will be able to provide you with superb interpretation. It is always interesting to swtich from one coast to another and you will not be disappointed with the drive to Zeballos. A stay here is more like visiting a family, where all your meals are included and late in September/early October, there is the chance to see black bears fishing for salmon right from the lodges deck. You will also go out on private boat safaris looking for black bears and humpbacks.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 10
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£2500
Grizzly Bear Safari in the Great Bear Rainforest

Our love affair with the Bella Coola valley located in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest has lasted nearly 20 years and was always one of the best bear viewing places in Canada. due to its ethical and responsible approach to grizzly bear safaris in British Colombia. Bear viewing without the sound of engines or need to waste precious resources is both intimate and sustainable and can lead to some of the most spectacular bear encounters in Canada. Leave the big cities behind and enjoy a Canada wildlife road trip like no other when you drive from Vancouver to Bella Coola for this budget Canada wildlife holiday.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 7
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£850
Beauty and Wildlife at Spirit Bear Lodge

Wildlife Trails have teamed up with an excellent First Nations community venture on one of these islands to offer the unique opportunity during the autumn salmon run to go in search on this rare and elusive spirit of the Great Bear Rainforest in the company of expert local guides. All bear viewing is conducted on foot, often involving patient vigils in natural hides. A boat is used to access remote locations on the surrounding islands and adjacent mainland where Spirit Bears are known to fish for salmon, or have been regularly seen in recent weeks, and the group (maximum 10 people) led by a local First Nations guide then hikes a short distance to a position offering the best view. Depending on the level of success with Spirit Bear sightings, there are also several locations in the area that the group can elect to visit in order to also observe Grizzly Bears in a similar fashion. The guides accumulate a great deal of knowledge about the whereabouts, habits and movements of Spirit Bears in the area from members of the community who come into contact with bears while working out in the field (e.g. forestry & fishery workers) in their traditional tribal territory, and from scouting locations themselves, prior to, and during the salmon season.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 7
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£4000