Key tips for re­spect­ing wildlife and pro­tect­ing your­self

Canadian Wildlife - - WILD THINGS - For more, visit the Cana­dian Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion web­site at Try search­ing “hike” or “sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment” for some use­ful info.

Bow Val­ley Wilds­mart is “a proac­tive con­ser­va­tion pro­gram” ded­i­cated to re­duc­ing neg­a­tive hu­man-wildlife in­ter­ac­tions in the area. Founded in Can­more in 2005 by lo­cal busi­nesses, en­vi­ron­men­tal groups and three lev­els of govern­ment, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has de­vel­oped a co­or­di­nated cam­paign of ed­u­ca­tion and out­reach that in­creases pub­lic safety and en­joy­ment in na­ture while sup­port­ing and sus­tain­ing wildlife pop­u­la­tions.

While the ma­te­ri­als they pro­duce are spe­cific to the chal­lenges faced in the Bow Val­ley, what they ad­vo­cate can be very use­ful any­where in Canada that hu­mans and wildlife in­ter­sect. Here are some of their rec­om­men­da­tions.

• Re­mem­ber, be­ing close to hu­mans is very stress­ful for wildlife. Keep a safe dis­tance, per­haps stay­ing in your ve­hi­cle if you are road-side. If a crowd of on­look­ers is gath­er­ing, leave.

• If go­ing into bear zones, take bear spray. It is your best de­fence, and can be use­ful as a last re­sort with ag­gres­sive moose, elk, wolves, coy­otes and cougars.

• Whether you're in a town with nearby wild an­i­mals or at a re­mote camp­ground, do not feed wildlife; it ha­bit­u­ates them to hu­man food and makes them more vul­ner­a­ble to harm. While you are at it, keep your garbage se­cure, empty your BBQ grease tray and keep pet food in­side.

• When hik­ing in the wild, keep your dog on a leash — it’s bet­ter for all con­cerned.

• If bik­ing, re­mem­ber that you are more likely to sur­prise wildlife, in bush, on blind cor­ners and hill crests and be­side noisy rivers. Slow down; make noise.

• Al­ways be aware of your sur­round­ings and rec­og­nize scat and tracks. Leave the area if you come across a dead an­i­mal. Stay on trails and re­spect all lo­cal warn­ings and clo­sures.

• If you en­counter wildlife, stay calm. Stop, do not run away. If the an­i­mal hasn’t no­ticed you, back away qui­etly and slowly. If you are per­ceived, back away slowly, speak­ing in calm voice. Be pre­pared to use your bear spray.

• Never ap­proach a fe­male with her young, par­tic­u­larly early in the sea­son. Dur­ing rut­ting sea­son, be ex­tra cau­tious about prox­im­ity.

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