Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Co-existing with Wildlife

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Stewardship Series workshop called "Wildlife in Your Woodlot- Challenges of Co-existing". It was hosted by the Stewardship Councils in Haliburton Highlands, Parry Sound-Muskoka, and Bancroft Area.

The workshop provided some great insights into understanding the habits of wolves, bears, and deer. Experts at the workshops told us that by better understanding their habits, we can avoid conflict and live in a way that is healthier for us all.

Black Bears:
  • 50% of human-bear conflicts are due to improperly stored garbage
  • 10% of human-bear conflicts are due to bird feeders

That means you can eliminate 60% of what attracts bears simply by storing your garbage properly and only having bird feeders out from November through March (when the bears are hibernating).

If you take away the food, you take away the bears.

Read more "Bear Wise" tips here and here

Wolves & Coyotes

There are 3 different types of wild canids in Ontario:

  • Grey wolf (canis lupus)- typically of northern Ontario
  • Eastern wolf (canis lycaon)- from Timmins south to Algonquin Park
  • Eastern coyoye (canis latrans)- southern, central, and eastern Ontario

Having wolves and coyotes in our area is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

Wolves and coyotes tend to ignore the areas where people live. You are more liekly to hear one than see one. Both wolves and coyotes howl at night to boradcast occupancy of their territory and keep each other informed of each other's locations while hunting or traveling alone.

Wolves and coyotes very rarely attack humans. Here are some things you can do to prevent problems:

  • Do not approach or feed wolves or coyotes. Feeding them makes them less fearful of humans and habituates them to food provided by humans.
  • Properly store and maintain garbage containters. Food attracts rodents and rodents attract coyotes.
  • Never attempt to "tame" a coyote or wolf.

Read more about wolves and coyotes here and here


Deer- and all animals for that matter- are all looking for the same things: food, shelter, water, and space. Their behaviours are motivated by these factors alone.

While summer is a time of plenty for deer in Muskoka (as any gardener here can tell you!), winter is hard for them. The browse is of low quality and they must contend with the cold weather and deep snow. To help them cope, deer store fat reserves for about 3 moths. They also tend to stay in conifer covered areas in winter where the snow is not as deep and the air is (a tiny bit) warmer.

Some Muskokans enjoy feeding deer but this can cause problems like dependance (if you go away and they no longer have that food source) and life threatning digestive diseases. The corn is also low in nutritional value and generally not good for them. Feeding deer also generally brings them closer to roadways.

A good brochure about co-existing with deer can be dowloaded here

Another good resource:

The living by water project

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