Grizzly bear crossing a stream (Canadian Tourism Commission photo)
Unlike more inhabited areas where wildlife corridors have been squeezed tight by housing developments, the creatures of Port Hardy and northern Vancouver Island have plenty of room to roam.
Wildlife near Port Hardy includes black bears, grizzly bears (on the adjacent mainland coast), timber wolves, bald eagles and Orcas. While some visitors may spot a black bear on the drive up to Port Hardy, there is always the option of a bear watching tour. Great Bear Nature Tours offers excursions to the Great Bear Rainforest to looks for grizzly bears and other resident creatures. Whale watching and bird watching are also excellent here.
Don't be surprised upon spotting a black bear rummaging alongside Highway 19 on the trip north to Port Hardy in spring and summer. These surprisingly shy omnivores graze for berries, green vegetation, roots, insects and grubs. They also have a taste for garbage, and this is where the meeting of wild creatures and humanity proves tricky. Rule number one for campers and hikers: store trash in bear-proof containers and hang both it and all food supplies in tree branches well removed from the campsite.
Great Bear Nature Tours
Departing from Port Hardy, Great Bear Nature Tours (rated one of the "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth" by National Geographic) take small groups by floatplane to its solar-powered lodge on the edge of the Great Bear Rainforest. Twice-daily trips by boat allow close encounters with grizzlies in the wild. Other possible sightings out in the wild: black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk, timber wolves and, on extremely rare occasion, cougars.
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