(Sea) lions and cougars and bears, oh my!

It looks like humans aren’t the only ones getting out and about now that the winter weather has given way to, well, perhaps a slightly warmer winter weather.

All joking aside, a series of human-wildlife encounters and wildlife-domestic animal encounters in the mid-Island region in recent weeks serve as a reminder that we live among wild animals. And they live among us, obviously.

Today’s edition alone has a story of bear attacks on wildlife in Hilliers and Bowser, which suggests at least a potential threat to humans and a very real threat to other wildlife.

Another story appears on a dead sea lion washed up on Parksville’s beach. The primary public threat from this carcass is to the olfactory receptors of beach walkers and Community Park visitors, as the city is not empowered to remove the animal.

No cougars today, but a large adult cougar was photographed recently in the yard of a French Creek resident. It was apparently just wandering through the neighbourhood, as the sighting came with no reports of pets or lifestock being harmed.

In the past week, we’ve also heard from Sylvia Campbell of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association, with a seasonal reminder that young deer fawns may be encountered on or near roadways. The recovery centre also took in a baby river otter whose mother was chased by a dog and left the little one behind.

There are varying approaches to dealing with all these types of encounters, and the best defence is education and preparation.

Our local black bears are omnivores whose diets are made up mostly of plants, but they will take advantage of favourable conditions to attack and eat lifestock that are not properly secured. The same rules apply to fruit trees in the fall.

With respect to young wild animals, whether a deer on the road shoulder or an apparently abandoned seal pup on a beach, the hands-off approach is called for.

For human-wildlife conflicts, the Conservation Officer Service has a wealth of information and tips on its website at www2.gov.bc.ca/.

For questions on what to do with live birds and animals that you may have found injured or apparently abandoned, NIWRA is your go-to source. If they don’t take in the animal, they know who does. Call 250-248-8534 or visis www.niwra.org.

—Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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