Gateway to the Great Bear Rainforest
Great Bear Rainforest Bella Coola

Watching Wildlife

Explore the Life within the Bella Coola Valley

© Michael Wigle Photography

From Bear Viewing to Bird Watching, you’ll be Thrilled by Bella Coola’s Wildlife.

Great Gray Owlcrop

© Michael Wigle Photography

Think of the Bella Coola Valley as a vast, wilderness viewing stage. The lush meadows, dense forests and high mountain ranges are home to grizzly & black bear, blacktail deer, wolves, cougar & mountain goats. Salmon spawn & schools of silvery trout are found in pristine rivers & creeks. The saltwater estuary is alive with the sounds and sights of birdlife & waterfowl. Watch an eagle swoop down to fish or even to spot a bear beside the road or ambling through a garden.

Anarko Bear Viewing Station at Belarko, Tweedsmuir Park

Essential Wildlife Viewing Tips:

  • Treat wildlife with respect. Always keep a safe distance & use binoculars.
  • Pay attention to local signage advising of area bears
  • Never approach a wild animal under any circumstances.
  • Never attempt to feed or touch a wild animal.
  • Do not bring dogs or other pets to sighting areas.
  • Avoid nesting sites & dens of wild animals.
  • In autumn, avoid areas & trails near salmon streams.
  • When hiking make noise to avoid surprise encounters.
  • If you have a surprise encounter, use a calm voice to  identify yourself & slowly back away from the area. Do not turn & run

Remember that these are wild animals that can be dangerous. For the best wildlife sightings, sign up with a local guide, you’ll have stories to tell when you go home.

How & Where to see Bella Coola Wildlife:

  • wildlife photo bear

    © Michael Wigle Photography

    Harbour seals, Bald eagles and Blue heron are commonly seen at Clayton Falls Recreation Park (2 km west of the public dock)

  • To spot Mountain Goats, check out the cliffs above Firvale & the area around Assanany Creek, west of Firvale
  • In Spring, take a Guided Tour to explore the wildlife-rich Estuary & keep alert for Bears on the shoreline, soaring Eagles, a variety of Waterfowl & Seals
  • During Spring & Early Summer, drive high in the alpine regions on forest service roads to spot black & grizzly bears before they migrate to the Valley floor for salmon season
  • In the Fall the river banks & coastal areas that contain salmon are frequented by bears
  • During July & August, from the highway bridges at stream crossings between Bella Coola & Hagensborg watch & revel in the phenomenal spawning process of the Chum & Pink Salmon.
  • During the month of September, the Bear Viewing Station at Belarko, in Tweedsmuir Park 30 minutes “Up Valley” from Hagensborg, provides a safe way to get close to bears; watching from a platform as the bears dive & splash in the river. The station is open 7 days a week & is fully staffed.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • If Pets need Care?

    There is no veterinary service in the Valley; the closest is in Williams Lake.
  • Pet Precautions

    The Valley also supports a healthy population of cougars (mountain lions). When visiting the Valley with your dog, keep it on a leash for its own protection.

Emergency Phone Numbers

  • Conservation Officer

    1 877 952-7277
  • Ambulance

    1 800 461-9911
  • Forest Fire

    1 800 663-5555
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