What you need to know about encountering wildlife on your snowmobile!
One of the greatest joys snowmobilers experience is being fortunate enough to witness the raw untouched beauty of nature. Our British Columbia backcountry is home to many wildlife species. Do you know what to do to ensure safety and stewardship should you have a wild experience while out riding?
Bears: Hibernation times for bears can vary based upon the availability of food sources. Early and late season riding could find you in the same habitat as grizzly and black bears. Pay attention to signs in the snow. Should you see fresh footprints and scat meandering along the path you wanted to take it would be recommended that you choose an alternate route. Bears are in a phase called hyperphagia, where every calorie stored is vital for survival, especially if they are expecting young. Give the bears space and leave the area to allow for a peaceful transition to hibernation. Face to face encounters are rare, but should you find yourself up close and personal with a bear remain calm and speak to the bear in a normal voice so it can identify you as a human. Slowly back away giving the bear space and do not turn your back on the bear or run, as doing so could instigate a predatory reaction. For more information please visit: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/misc/bears/
Moose: Moose are a much-misunderstood animal with many underestimating their size and power. They can be extremely reactionary so should you see a moose or fresh tracks on the trail stop to allow the animal time to go on its way without contributing extra stress to the situation. They have a very significant fight or flight behavior, should they feel threatened or cornered they will charge, so allow any moose you encounter, especially a cow with a calf time to move on. Shut your machine off and be quiet to reduce stress on the animal. Many are plagued with ticks and heavy predation throughout the winter months, so moose need every available caloric reserve they have to survive. Taking the steps to reduce a stressful encounter is a must. If you find yourself being unexpectedly charged by a moose you can climb a tree to safety until the moose loses interest.
Wolverine: Should you be fortunate enough to see a wolverine in the wild…count yourself lucky. These elusive predators are not seen often. They do require the same respect and space as other wild animals should you encounter one, and they can be very tenacious. They do not hibernate like bears and can travel upwards of 40kms in one day. February is when the females’ den and give birth to young. While encounters with wolverines while snowmobiling is extremely rare if you do see one it is advised to give the animal space and backtrack into other terrain for your day’s adventure especially during the months of February and March.
Elk/Deer/Caribou: Give them space to peacefully go on their way like any animal you may encounter in the backcountry. Normally wildlife will hear our machines and peacefully go on about their life. Scientific study has validated this as fact, as wild animals will quickly habituate to the sound of a motor vehicle or machine. They do not perceive us as a threat while on our machine, so should they be off in the distance, enjoy the moment perhaps with a few pictures. If they are in your direct path, stop to allow the animals to go on, or backtrack and find an alternate route for adventure. Do not get off your snowmobile.
British Columbia Snowmobilers are among the most fortunate ones for backcountry wildlife experiences, often encountering species many only dream of seeing in real life. Tread lightly and always with respect. Remember to pack out what you pack in and support your local snowmobile club to protect and preserve our beautiful BC backcountry. Please do not feed the wildlife. They need natural sourced foods to survive and thrive in the winter climate of British Columbia.