Wildlife, large and small, is an important part of cottage life. They come in all shapes and sizes – from little frogs and salamanders to mice and raccoons to deer, bear and moose. Please do not feed or encourage these animals to become too friendly; they may wish to take up residence with you. Keep all exterior screen doors closed at all times.
If you visit Ontario in between May and October, and you are up in Cottage Country, there is a good likelihood you’ll see a bear at some point. Usually, they are off in the distance as you come around a bend in the road, or you may be dropping some garbage off at the local dump and you’ll catch a glimpse of them behind the wires, so it is unlikely you’ll ever encounter one up close.
However, there’s a few things you need to know about our bear population here in Ontario.
- Black bears live throughout most of Ontario. They primarily inhabit forested areas where they are best able to find food, refuge and a place to bring up their cubs.
- They mostly avoid humans.
- Their life revolves around food with the bulk of their diet being plant material – berries, nuts etc.
- When their natural food sources run low in periods of drought for example, they will look for alternatives.
Most conflicts between bears and people happen when bears are attracted by smells and rewarded with an easy meal.
When bears pick up a scent with their keen noses, they will investigate it.
If rewarded with feasts of bird food, garbage or pet food, bears will return as long as the food source is available.
Thanks to Bearwise for this information
When at a cottage it is important to follow all instructions related to garbage and never store it outside because if the bears don’t get it, the raccoons will. Some cottage owners have invested in bear-proof garbage containers but if not, you must keep all your food waste indoors until you can take it to the local dump or landfill site.
If you are hiking in bear country, wear a bell or sing so you don’t come upon one by surprise. You’re best to go the other way if you come across signs of a bear (droppings that look like blueberry pie filling). If you see a cub, the mother isn’t far away and wouldn’t take kindly to you getting between her and her offspring, so again walk the other way. Bears don’t see very well but have an excellent sense of smell and if they wish to, can move quickly and are good tree climbers, so don’t surprise them by running, just quietly and slowly move out of their space.
Bugs and Critters
Canada has its share of flying bugs, which if you think about it, is to be expected with so much open water and warm weather. The mosquito is probably the biggest pest but they don’t like the heat and usually hang around shady areas and only come out in any numbers just after sunset. This is the primary reason for the screening on doors and windows. You may have heard of the black fly but they too can’t stand the heat and disappear after the 1st couple of weeks of warm weather; usually by the 1st of June depending on the region. Keep your insect repellent handy and liberally apply it to the children.
Mice like cottages and signs of mice about do not indicate unhygienic conditions; simply that someone may have left a screen door open encouraging a little furry creature to take up residence. They are only there in search of food, so don’t leave crumbs lying around. A couple of traps or some poison mouse seed will quickly get rid of them. If you are squeamish about setting traps, call the cottage caretaker who will deal with the problem for you.
If there are chipmunks, squirrels or racoons about, make certain they do not have access into the cottage as they can make a real mess of a kitchen.
Chipmunks (chippies) love peanuts in their shells so if you want to feed them, do so by all means, but just make sure it’s away from any open doors! Once inside it’s a tough job to get them out again.