A large group of hikers had an intense encounter with a pair of grizzly bears recently in Canada’s Banff National Park. During the incident, which was captured on video and later shared by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBS), the two bruins walked closely behind the hikers for several minutes while their guide advised them to remain calm.
“It’s not every day that you think you’re actually going to be that close to two grizzly bears,” guide Phoebe Nicholson told CBC. Nicholson was leading the hike along the Consolation Lake Trail near Moraine Lake, one of the most heavily-visited attractions in Banff. “[It was] a pretty intense, but also pretty amazing experience, to see animals like that in the wild, just in their natural habitat, going for a walk with us.”
The bears showed up when the group was more than half-way into the hike and followed them down the trail for 20 minutes. According to CBC, Nicholson was the only person carrying bear spray. At one point, the smaller of the two grizzlies bluff charged the group. “From my training, I know that that is a normal thing,” Nicholson said of the bear’s bluff charge. “The best thing to do is, of course, to stay calm and keep a slow, slow pace, so that’s exactly what we did.”
In a video interview with CBC, Nicholson, an Australian native who’s been working in Banff for about six months, said the bears remained within 10 to 20 meters of the group during the entire 20-minute encounter. Eventually, they veered off and continued up the mountain, and the group finished its guided hike without incident.
Recent estimates show that there are about 65 grizzly bears living in Banff and about the same amount in nearby Jasper National Park, which borders Banff to the north. Hikers and visitors in both parks are urged to carry bear spray, make lots of noise, and travel only on marked trails.