So this is not a popular subject on flyfishing sites as the chances of an encounter are low unless you fish Salmon a lot. But they do happen especially if you fish remote mountain rivers or lakes. So I thought you should have some basic information about what you will encounter and how to deal with it. Over the 40+years I have been fishing and hunting I have had a number interactions with predatory animal in Alberta and BC. While I appreciate peoples fear I find these encounters exilerating and welcome them to happen as long as I have a small amount of control over the situation(see the animal from ways off so I can control how close they get to me) I was 6 or 7 when I had my first run in with a bear and learned a valuable lesson then, we will talk about that at the conclusion so Let’s jump in.
What is out there
For a lot of people the question is what is out there and are they dangerous, my answer to the dangerous part is no matter the amount of human interaction a wild animal has it is still a wild animal so every time you deal with a predator treat it as a danger to you. Even a squirrel that takes food from your hand will bite if scared.the predators you will encounter in western Canada are.
- Grizzly Bears
- Black Bears
- wolverines (very rare)
- Skunks and other small creatures(not predators as such but still a threat)
Over the years i have had some close encounters with both Grizzly and black. My first close up to a Black bear happened when I was 6 or 7, I decided that Sunday on the way to the stream we where going to fish that I was going to be the first to the best fishing hole it was close to where we parked so all I had to do was grab my pole and bait and go before anyone else was ready. So off I went up the trail as fast as I could, I came around the willows to the whole only to find a small Black Bear already fishing there I looked at him he looked at me he woofed I yelled and we both went different direction. That was a great lesson for we as I now knew they did not want anything to do with us.
Over the years there have been a few Grizzly encounters but they are mostly from a distance. The closest call we had was a hunting trip a couple of years ago my son and I where walking through the willows looking for a deer when we heard noise ahead of us and then a grunt and before I could see my son hollers BEAR when I looked up there was a large male Grizzly stand about 40 ft from us taking a look and then he ran off. We had come up on him while he was having a snooze and woke him up I was the closest and figured after that I was within 30 ft of him.
Most Bear encounters end this way as they don’t want anything to do with us, There are the exceptions though so being aware of what is around you is Paramount while fishing or hiking. The most dangerous time to have an encounter is the spring or early summer when the cubs are small as they have no fear and will come right up to you then mom gets mad. The other danger is finding a Bear on a food source like a dead animal or a good berry patch.
Cougars are the most allusive predator in the mountains, I have had very few dealings with them over the years. the most notable would have happened years ago, my oldest son and I where fishing on one of or favorite rivers as we where walking along the shore my son said dad there is something in the trees across the river. I didn’t think much of it as wolves and coyotes are always around so just kept an eye on the situation. the further we walked the more it became apparent that it was a cougar as we would see bits of him through the trees, He followed us for about 500 yards and then went off into the trees and never seen him again.
Wolves, Coyotes and Wolverines
have had both around camp or on the river, wolves are not seen much mostly stay away from humans. the only really notable one with wolves was when my daughter was 6 months old and we where camping she cried at night and the next morning when we came out of the tent there where about 12 wolves around our camp staying about 30ft from camp and just watching not sure if they wanted to eat my daughter or just curios, they stayed around for a few days and followed me as I went fishing always staying that 30ft away then one night they just left. Coyotes on the prairies are always watching you fish hoping for a free meal but they never come close. Wolverines are rarely ever seen while fishing you will some times find tracks but that is about all.
Other small creatures
.All the other creatures you find in the woods although not predators can still be dangerous as they can bite and some could carry Rabies.
So to sum this up most times you are very safe in the wilds if you pay attention to what is happening around you and don’t do stupid thing like try to pet an elk, don’t laugh I have seen it happen. Most of the creatures you meet want nothing to do with you unless there is food involved then they may be more aggressive. With good planning and watching around you it is about as safe as walking around a city, so go out and have fun. Any comment are welcome or maybe you have a story to share.