It is estimated that there are more than 120,000 Black Bears in British Columbia and over 7000 Black Bears on Vancouver Island making it one of the more dense places in the world for this bear population. The Vancouver Island black bear is slightly darker in colour and larger than the mainland bear and is considered one of 6 subspecies in British Columbia. In Tofino we see Black Bears on our Bear Watching Tours. Tours are on a boat about 20 minutes from the Tofino harbour behind Meares Island. We take guests to safely observe Black Bears in their natural habitat from the boat at a respectful distance. Tofino Bear Watching Tours are offered daily on the low tide.


  • Black Bears are omnivorous even though they are classified as carnivores.

  • Most of their diet consists of vegetation though coastal bears will often eat sea life, overturning rocks to get their prey.

  • During the Fall the Black Bears head to the rivers to feast on salmon.


  • Bears go into a deep sleep or denning period, usually from November through to April.

  • Some black bears, usually males, may not hibernate if the weather is good and food is still abundant.

  • During the denning period, bears will not defecate or urinate.

  • Bears lose approximately 30% of their weight over the winter.


  • Females usually reach maturity starting at four years and then breed every two to three years.

  • It is most common to have two offspring but that number can
    vary from one to five.

  • Mating usually happens from early June to mid July.


  • Young black bears are called cubs.

  • Cubs are between 2-5 kilograms in size when they leave the den in late April.


  • Adult black bears have few predators in the wild: grizzly bears and wolves are about the only animals that will attempt to kill a full grown black bear.

  • Bears have a sense of smell far greater than that of dogs and it is this sense of smell that helps them locate food at great distances.