Bowen Island

Where are the Bears on Bowen Island?

So where are the bears on Bowen Island? The short answer is they’re rarely here; but I’m going to talk about when they do come, and how they get here.

A small black bear sitting on grass.

A sighting is reported about once every 5 years. I haven’t heard of any encounters in the past 5 years on Bowen Island. Some would say we’re overdue, others would say I don’t know how statistics work. I’d give them 50/50 they’re both right.

Bears have been sighted swimming off BC Ferries. I’ve seen a bear swimming while boating about 200m off shore from Whyte Cliff Park, 2km east of Bowen Island.

The practicalities of a Bear Swimming to Bowen Island

Did you know bears can swim long distances? Polar Bears can swim over 600 kilometers (400 miles). But, I’d imagine the 2km between Whytecliff Park and Bowen Island would be easy enough for a Black Bear.

Even the currents wouldn’t stop a bear from visiting, just slow it down. A falling tide can last 4-8 hours would consist of the currents pushing the poor bears out into the Strait of Georgia at about 1-3km/hr while the black bear was swimming about 4-8km/hr. I have my doubts about the top end speed as I’d imagine that’s more ‘sprinting’ rather than a sustained effort of endurance travelling. Still though, the 1km/hr difference would get the bear here in 2 hours.

I’d be theorizing, but likely the bears are smart enough to swim with the currents, rather than against them. Or, perhaps all the bears that ended up on Bowen Island, started by going to Sunshine coast, and ended up drifting off course. So it turns out we only have tidally confused bears on Bowen Island.

Historical Sightings

Ok so when have these bears shown up?

Our research team (my wife) found a couple of articles. The latest bear was here in 2020, and prior to that in 2010 inside of Snug Cove. The 2010 bear, knocked down fences in search of food. The school tells children to walk in pairs for safety.

a pair of Twix bars, humorously represents the advice that children walking in pairs is safe enough.
A completely unrelated image of a pair of Twix bars.

When is the next one coming?

Most of us who’ve grown up in British Columbia have learned, to store garbage in secure tightly closing bins, clean barbecues after use, and pick fruit from trees early, allowing it to ripen inside. More about bear safety on the local municipalities website.

But, really, the more annoying thing on the island is Squirrels eating all of your fruit before it’s ready, and the crows or ravens knocking your organics over before the weekly Wednesday pickup. I’ve unfortunately seen the results of a spooked deer deciding to jump on an unlucky person.

So while bears, may be the biggest animal in the kingdom on Bowen, the chances are rare that you’ll see one. We’re still living in paradise here. If you want to come see the wilds of Bowen Island for yourself, reach out and we’d be happy to help.