Sooke is a nature-lovers paradise and home to numerous wildlife species, including black bears. Without wild animals creating ecosystems and thriving in their natural environments, we are at risk of losing something we love so much about our community.

We need your help in caring for our furred, feathered and finned friends.


Do not disturb wildlife. Give wild animals space (stay at least 100 metres away – approximately one football field), by not approaching too closely for a photograph or a better look. Bears, elk and other wildlife may react aggressively if they feel threatened by you or your pet.

Do not feed wildlife. It is illegal to feed wildlife. Wildlife find their healthiest food in their natural environment. Once they become accustomed to being fed by people, they stop looking for their natural foods and lose their fear of humans. These animals, no longer “wild”, are a threat to public safety.

Bear aware: Special Notice

August 17, 2023 – Leash dog where bear in area. Black bears are neither confrontational nor aggressive by nature. As a species, black bears evolved in forested habitats where they learned to respond to danger and avoid trouble by climbing a tree or disappearing into the woods. When those options aren’t available, a bear’s natural instinct for self-preservation kicks in, and the bear will defend itself, its food, or its cubs.

Dog behavior is more complex; not all dogs bark for the same reasons. Some breeds bark, lunge and bite out of fear; others have an innate drive to bark and chase. Protective breeds may be trying to guard their humans. And some dogs just really love to bark.

To a bear, however, your dog’s motivation doesn’t matter. A barking, lunging, snapping or chasing dog is seen as a threat. It’s very likely the bear will respond by defending itself.

For the safety of persons and animals, please leash dogs when you see “bear in area” signage.

October 20, 2022 – The bears have had a challenging time feeding this year with our low river levels. Please limit your viewing of bears to allow their natural habits to not be altered.

Be mindful of the bears’ body language, if a bear is aware of your presence and is altering its course because of your location, back off and allow for the bear to continue its path. Do not follow bears along their natural course.

When observing a bear, remain in the same location or move away slowly and do not push further toward it.

Though these creatures are incredible to watch, be mindful that all encounters with humans in a bear’s space is an open opportunity for them to become too comfortable and have devastating consequences.

Tips to help keep Sooke’s wildlife thriving

  1. View from a distance. Respect the space of WILD animals.
  2. Do not follow. You may feel following an animal to get the perfect photo is harmless; however, you are wrong. Respect them in their natural habitat.
  3. Watch the body language of wildlife. Even if you’re a safe distance away or in your vehicle, wildlife may not be comfortable with your presence.  If the animals respond to you (grunting, pinning ears, startle, flying away), you’re too close.
  4. Don’t allow pets and wildlife to mix.
  5. Keep to trails and designated areas only.
  6. Pack it in. Pack it out. Help keep our environment pristine by being responsible and packing out what you pack in. Leave no trace behind.