Polar bear safety

Sirmilik National Park

Avoiding an encounter

Essential safety tips and how to plan ahead to reduce the risk of encountering polar bears in Sirmilik.

Handling an encounter

What to do if your group encounters a polar bear in Sirmilik, 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 in Sirmilik.

Deterrents and warning systems

Bear spray, noisemakers, electric fences and other polar bear deterrents to keep your group safe in Sirmilik.

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.

In Sirmilik National Park, polar bears are most active along the coast of the Borden Peninsula and along the north, west, and east coasts of Bylot Island. Be particularly cautious in March/April when females with cubs are emerging from their dens, and from July to October when the sea ice is gone and the bears are forced ashore. Polar bears may be encountered at other times of the year and in other areas of the park, even on glaciers. Always avoid camping near places where food may be cached or where harvesting activities (especially seal) have occurred, as polar bears may be attracted to these areas.

Each encounter with a polar bear is unique. Good judgement, 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. The more people in your group, the greater the chances of deterring a bear. Read the following pamphlet carefully:

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