Polar bear safety

Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site

Avoiding an encounter

Essential safety tips and how to reduce the risk of encountering polar bears in Nunavut.

Handling an encounter

What to do if your group encounters a polar bear, how to prepare and how to get help in an emergency.

Choosing a safe campsite

Where to set up your tent, places to avoid, and best practices to prevent polar bears from approaching your camp.

Deterrents and warning systems

Bear spray, noisemakers, electric fences and other polar bear deterrents and warning systems.

Nanuq, the great white bear, is found in many of Canada’s northern national parks and in some national historic sites. Whenever bears and people occupy the same area, conflict can arise. Polar bears and people have coexisted for thousands of years but contact between the two must be minimised to continue this legacy. Successful polar bear conservation requires your co-operation.

At Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site, polar bears can be found throughout the site and near Gjoa Haven. Be watchful at all times. Report polar bear encounters, sightings, tracks and signs to Parks Canada staff as soon as possible. Use a radio or satellite phone if possible. If you are nervous about bears, or uncertain of your ability to deal with them, consider hiring a guide. Guides are knowledgeable and experienced at travelling in bear country. When hiring a guide, ask about their experience, how they will avoid encountering polar bears, and their plan of action should you encounter a bear.

Each encounter with a polar bear is unique. Good judgment, common sense, and familiarity with polar bear behaviour are required in all situations. This information provides guidelines for avoiding and dealing with polar bear encounters. For your safety and the safety of the bears, please read this section carefully and seriously consider the risks involved with travel in polar bear country.

If you choose to travel in polar bear country, take the necessary precautions. Read the following pamphlet carefully:

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