Deterrents and warning systems

Auyuittuq National Park

Reducing the threat posed by a polar bear during an interaction may be difficult. Non-lethal deterrents cannot be depended on to ensure safety. The best way to live safely with bears is to avoid contact with them. Any potential weapon must be considered, such as skis, poles, rocks, blocks of ice or even knives. Stay together as a group. This can be a deterrent and actions, such as making noise, jumping, waving arms, throwing things, may help to drive a polar bear away.

  • Commercial deterrents

    • Noisemakers including air horns, pistol and pen launched bear bangers may scare a bear away.
    • Pepper spray is effective against polar bears, but has some limitations. It must be warm enough to atomize and it must be used at close range. Also be aware of wind direction to avoid having the spray blow into your face.
    • Know how and when to use these deterrents and practice beforehand.
    • Availability of commercial deterrents is limited in the north, most will have to be purchased elsewhere and transported as dangerous goods.
    • Portable solar electric fences may deter a bear at your campsite if properly installed and maintained.
    • Contact Parks Canada for more information.

  • Warning systems

    • Set up a portable trip-wire or motion detector alarm system around your tent to alert you if a polar bear approaches your camp. Before leaving home, contact Parks Canada for more information.
    • You may wish to take a dog, but only one that has proven experience with polar bears. Several dogs are better than one. Know how to handle them. Keep them staked so they cannot run to you for protection and stake them downwind from your sleeping area. Be sure to clean up any dog food leftovers. Dogs must be under control at all times within national parks to avoid wildlife harassment.
    • Designate a bear monitor to keep watch if a polar bear might be nearby. Consider moving your camp if there is a bear in the area.

In Canada’s national parks it is unlawful to possess a firearm unless you are a licensed guide or bear monitor with a permit. Consider hiring a guide or a bear monitor for increased safety. If you operate a guiding or outfitting business and wish your guides to be considered for a firearms permit, please contact the National Park or Site or Field Unit Office. The exception to this regulation is for beneficiaries of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement, the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, the Nunavik Inuit Land Claim Agreement and any future land claim agreements, who can carry firearms when engaged in traditional activities within national parks within their land claim area.

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