Mountain bikers in the back country need to be heard in order to alert a potential bear lurking around the corner, says a spokesperson with the Alberta government’s Bearsmart program.


Bear encounters have been all over news pages and broadcasts in the past week, including the killing of mountain bicyclist Robin Kochorek of Calgary by a young black bear in the East Kootenay region of B.C. close to Alberta’s border and two other riders narrowly escaping a grizzly bear over the weekend near Banff.


Cyclists are being warned to “shout” in order to avoid startling any bears that could be meandering around the corner.


“When cyclists turn around very sharp corners, there is always that chance of running into a bear,” said Darcy Whiteside, a spokesperson with Alberta Sustainable Resources.


“Making a lot of noise is probably the No. 1 thing you should do in order to prevent any encounters.”

Whiteside says a bicycle bell doesn’t do the job since voices can travel much further than a small ringing tone.

“Unlike deer that run away when startled, bears usually get defensive,” Whiteside said. “And when you see a bear in the distance, you should leave immediately.”

Whiteside says with more and more people inhabiting Alberta and B.C., there is a chance that both provinces could see a rise in bear encounters.

Nonetheless, when encounters do happen, Whiteside recommends punching the bear in the nose where they are most sensitive during a struggle.

“Unlike grizzly bears, you should always fight back against a black bear if you are caught lying down at nighttime because they are scavengers at night,” Whiteside said. “If you just lay there, it will think you are easy prey.”

Grizzly details

  • Grizzly bears are identified with having a hump and broader shoulders than a black bear, say bear experts, and grizzly tracks have a minimal arc on the toes.