Keeping Wild Animals Away

Bear in water

Bears, moose and caribou are fun to visit when they're behind steel cages in a zoo but, out in the wild, these beautiful animals can turn into your worst nightmare. So what can you do if you come face-to-face with a dangerous wild animal? Better yet, how can avoid having them invade your property and destroy your possessions?

Animal attacks aren't commonplace in Ontario cottage country, but they do occur. Whether you're sitting inside your cottage on a scorching day or out for a walk in the trails beside your summer cottage, you need to know how to protect yourself should you come in close proximity with a wild animal.

Around the Cottage

First and foremost, do your best to reduce the allure of your cottage / campsite to would-be attackers. Bears and other animals are attracted to anything edible, especially items that emit strong odours. Reducing the risk of animal invasion involves keeping your food, toiletries and garbage inaccessible and uninviting. After all, if there is no food or garbage around, wild animals will not learn to equate your presence with anything they desire.

Store your garbage in bear-proof containers or store the garbage in your garage until you're ready to have it picked up (or dropped off at a local facility). Keep your food indoors in airtight and odour-free containers and be sure to put away your picnic leftovers. Be sure to clean the BBQ grill and put away any leftover food as soon as you're done. Of course, this includes pet food, which many people forget will still attract wild animals, so be sure to put your pet and bird food away as well.

Winnie isn't the only bear that loves honey, so be sure to put away any bottles or jars containing the sweet, gooey substance. If you're someone who chooses to have a few honeybees on your property, you'll certainly want to invest in bear traps and other devices to thwart invaders. Before doing so, make sure you check with the Ministry of Natural Resources to ensure that the device you purchase meets with their regulations.

Many people don't realize that they can minimize the unwanted property damage and close encounters with wild animals simply be altering their behaviour while in cottage country. Though bears are mainly omnivorous (they eat both plants and meat), they are primarily interested in berries, nuts, seeds and insects. If you don't give them an invitation to visit (leaving out garbage, food, etc.), chances are pretty good that they'll leave you well enough alone.

Leaving the cottage

When venturing off into the forest for a leisurely stroll, don't go unprepared. For protection against bears, bring along a can of pepper spray and carry it on your hip for easy access in case of emergency. Pepper spray can open a window of opportunity for you in an emergency situation that may very well save your life. There are varieties designed specifically for defence against bears, so be sure you bring along a can that's suitable for the size of your would-be attacker.

Hikers oftentimes come across wild animals from a distance and the proliferation of point-and-shoot, high-quality digital cameras has created a world of amateur photography even in the wilderness. If you're looking for the ideal shot, use your zoom lens to get the perfect picture rather than your legs. Turn off your flash and take advantage of the shot nature gives you and don't endanger yourself by looking for something better. Unless you're a photographer for National Geographic, you probably don't need to get up-close and personal with all of nature's children.