British Columbia is home to some of the most physically diverse landscapes in the world. From the arid Okanagan Desert, to the Vancouver Island rainforests and dozens of towering mountain ranges, it’s no wonder that thousands of outdoor enthusiasts enjoy all that BC has to offer all year long. Most folks are ready to set out in their RVs at the first signs of spring, but it’s important to remember that we share space with many native animals that are just waking up from their winter hibernation. That’s why the team at South Thompson RV has put together this handy guide of safety tips for co-existing with BC’s wildlife this camping season.
Alright, so we might not see any lions or tigers in this neck of the woods, but we do have plenty of big cats and bears. Both cougars and bears reside in the British Columbia Wildlife Park to the east of Kamloops, and will travel hundreds of kilometres in the search for food, shelter and mating opportunities. Whether you’re headed to Paul Lake Provincial Park, Monte Lake Resort Campsite and RV Park, Shuswap Meadows or anywhere in between for an adventure-filled RV trip, there is a good chance that eventually you’ll encounter one of these BC natives.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that these animals are not inherently vicious or focused on hurting humans; rather, they are wild animals who act on instinct, and are often looking for food, trying to protect their young or feel threatened. Many bears across British Columbia will descend from the mountains into quite low altitudes in search of berries to fill their post-hibernation bellies, and cougars can cover an incredibly wide territory while they hunt prey. To try and protect BC’s human and wildlife residents, we’ve rounded up some helpful guidelines from Wild Safe BC about how to camp and hike safely this spring:
• Stay in groups. Travel in larger groups and be sure to keep children and pets closeby. Both cougars and bears are far less likely to attack large groups of people.
• Make noise as you move. This can be particularly fun if you are hiking with children: engage them in rounds of eye spy, read aloud from a nature book or suggest singalongs.
• Look for signs. Keep your eyes open for signs of cougars and bears, such as scratches on trees, droppings or tufts of fur in bushes. If you notice several signs in close proximity, change direction or head back to camp.
• Be cautious of cubs. The term “mama bear” exists for good reason! Cougar and bear mothers can be fierce, so take extra precaution if you spot a cub. Make yourself big, loud and back away slowly - never turn your back or run away.
• Keep calm. If you encounter a bear or cougar, it’s imperative that you remain calm. Pick up small children and pets immediately, and slowly start to back away. Give the animal an escape route, since they are far more likely to retreat than attack.
• Be assertive. Whether you meet a bear or cougar, maintain eye contact and make yourself look as big as possible while you slowly back away. Many hikers have had incredible success by using assertive language. Consider saying something like, “I am a human and I am not food” in a loud, firm voice.
Never turn your back or try to quickly run away. These actions trigger an attack response in a wide variety of animals, including bears and cougars.
It’s important to remember that this is general advice, and South Thompson RV recommends always doing additional research in order to keep you and your loved ones safe when you venture into the wilderness. BC Parks is a great resource for outdoor enthusiasts to find information about campgrounds, RV destinations, local safety alerts and much more. As always, don’t hesitate to give us a call or stop by our Kamloops dealership to chat with one of our friendly team members about all things RV. From everyone here at South Thompson RV, we wish you a safe and adventurous BC camping season!