Beware of Bears!

After the decision was made to spend our vacation in Canada this summer, my family quickly settled on camping in Algonquin Park. We loaded up the van, including our mountain bikes, and drove to an outstanding campground where we had a spot by one of the lakes. When we entered the campground there was a sign that said, “Caution Bear in the Area. Do Not Leave Food Unattended”. Although the direction was clear, it was not very comprehensive. After a few days we spotted 3 bears; a mother with 2 cubs. We were not the only tourists in the area and many people came by to observe the bears and to take pictures. Since there was a good supply of berries in the area, the bears returned every day. People started to become bolder and approach the bears a little too closely. Well maybe not too close, since no one was aware of any guidelines. Several times the park ranger came by to send people away but he did not give clear guidelines about distance, noise levels and do’s and don’ts. We saw the bears stressing out when they felt surrounded by tourists. Although we did not see the incident, we heard that the mother bear came to the defense of her cubs and chased after some intruders.

A simple information card with safety rules handed out at the camp entrance would have done the trick and would have made observing the bears less risky and less intrusive.

The same applies to the security industry and the lack of direction in several instances. Clear instructions, a quick reference card and training (including logic and reasons for the rules) will make guards and LP officers more effective and will reduce the number of incidents. During this summer there were several occurrences involving guards working in our industry who did not know how to deal with difficult situations. Clear guidelines and instructions are essential to enhance security around campsites frequented by bears and people not behaving appropriately. When I discussed it with a park ranger, he actually thought that it was a good idea to be more specific next year to protect the bears and the tourists alike.

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