While it is uncommon for wildlife to enter the campus grounds, it is certainly possible that you might have an encounter with wildlife here at UNBC. The following information has been taken from the UNBC Field Safety Manual and should help you decide on the proper strategy to take when encountering wildlife.
Please remember that no encounter should be considered ‘typical’, and you may have to take actions in your particular circumstances that are not recommended in the material below. Being aware of your surroundings is the first step to effective wildlife safety. Always report wildlife activity to UNBC Security at 250-960-7058 to initiate a campus wide warning.
British Columbia has two bear species, the black bear (Ursus americanus) and the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos). Both bear species are responsible for serious injuries and deaths to humans in BC, and both should be treated with extreme caution. If travelling through non-pedestrian locations on campus, the best way to avoid bear-human conflict is to alert bears to your presence before getting too close to them, by making a lot of noise. Loud voices probably work better than bear bells. As well, try to stick to open areas where you can be easily seen and heard. While walking through the trail network around UNBC, stay alert and make an extra effort to be noisy (e.g. calling out ―"yo bear" about every 50 paces or at regular intervals if you are stationary works very well). Low frequency sound transmits better than high frequency sounds in forests so calling tends to work better than bells to alert bears of your presence. In particular, avoid getting close to an animal carcass and getting close to a female with cubs. Avoid areas where ravens are numerous (sign of a nearby carcass), and be on the lookout for carcasses. If you see cubs or carcasses, leave the area. Report any bear activity to UNBC Security at 960-7058 to initiate a campus warning.
The black bear may not be black: colour can vary to brownish cinnamon. Black bears are seldom dangerous. If unaccustomed to people, they will usually turn and run from an encounter. Black bears are sometimes known to engage in predatory attacks. The rule of thumb is always to try and fight off an attacking black bear. Do not play dead. Use pepper spray, a branch, stones, or whatever is available to fight off an attack.
Grizzlies occasionally make unprovoked attacks, but most attacks result from being surprised at close quarters. Grizzlies are distinguished from black bears by their shoulder-hump and dish-shaped faces. They are also usually brownish or yellowish- brown, but vary in colour from blonde to black. If you startle a grizzly bear and it behaves aggressively towards you, consider playing dead. Lie on your stomach and cover your neck, and keep your pack on, as it can offer some protection. If you are being stalked by a grizzly bear in an apparent predatory situation, do not play dead. Try and appear as large as possible and stick close to your group members if you are travelling in groups.
Learn to recognize bear sign – overturned logs, dug up mammal burrows, patches of earth overturned in searches for roots, broken tree branches, slashes on tree trunks, bear scat or tracks. Be sure to be on the lookout in berry patches – these are hotspots for bears.
Some locally available bear deterrents include bells, horns, bear spray and bear bangers.
A moose encounter has the potential to be just as dangerous as a bear encounter. Therefore, similar measures must be taken to avoid these large ungulates. Moose are especially aggressive in the spring (calving season) and the fall (rutting season). Moose are most active in the early hours of the morning. However, one can expect to meet a moose any time of the day, especially in marshy woodland and around lakes. The best method of avoiding unwanted encounters with wildlife is to make a lot of noise. Hence, while practicing good bear-avoidance measures, moose will also be alerted of your presence. As harmless as a moose encounter may seem, it is important to have a high level of respect for the damage and injury these animals can incur if they feel threatened. Hence, if a moose is encountered, a minimum of 100 m must be put between yourself and the animal. If the moose remains stationary, you should cautiously move away from the animal, monitoring its behaviour in the process. Signals such as whether its ears are forward or back, or a lowering of the head are good indicators of aggressiveness (forward and erect is the animal being alert, back and down over the head is aggressive). React according to the signals being sent by the animal. Also, the direction you use in moving away should not interfere with any natural escape routes the moose may want to take. Similarly, it is very important not to position yourself between two moose (cow and calf or two rutting males). Report any moose activity to UNBC Security at 250-960-7058 to initiate a campus wide warning.
If a moose feels threatened, it may charge at the person that has invaded its space. Moose are not predatory animals. Some examples of aggressive behaviour that may be exhibited are flattening of the ears and approaching humans. Unlike in a bear encounter, walking quickly, or if safe to do so, running away from an angry moose will not lead to a sustained attack; it will likely prevent it. Should the moose charge regardless, the best method of defence is to move behind a big tree, light standard or other large stationary object. Continue to try to get away from the animal while always keeping large solid objects between yourself and the moose. It is imperative that no false sense of security is attained once a large solid object is between a person and an angry moose, as moose are very capable of kicking accurately with their forelegs around a tree trunk. Although it is best to try to get away from the animal, this is sometimes difficult, particularly if the area is challenging to move through.