Bowen Island is home to a variety of wild animals, including rats, skunks, raccoons, and the occasional black bear, coyote or cougar. Whether they’re searching for food, or looking for a warm place to call home, there are steps you can take to make your property less inviting to them.
Pets are not wildlife: Don’t let them loose
Unwanted pets and plants can cause serious damage to our local ecosystems.
Many pets released into the wild die by starvation, predators, or cars. Survivors can threaten native species by: taking over habitat, introducing disease, or eating them and their eggs. Find out what to do with your unwanted pets at Invasive Species Council of BC.
Reports of coyotes
In April 2022, we received reports of a coyote on Bowen Island. Coyotes are not common here, but they can make their way here just like the occasional black bear or cougar. These wild animals can swim long distances or hitch a ride on log booms.
Wild coyotes are naturally curious animals, however, they are timid and will usually run away if challenged. Human-coyote conflicts can occur when they predate on young or small livestock or attack people’s pets. Free-ranging pets are at risk of coyote predation. While human attacks are rare, they can occur especially if coyotes become comfortable around humans and have received a food reward either through direct or indirect feeding. There are currently no reports of coyotes with rabies in BC. WildSafe BC has some resources on reducing conflicts with coyotes.
The following advice may be useful:
- Scare away approaching predators: Do not run away. Use stones, sticks, rocks, loud noises, waving arms and aggressive yelling while maintaining eye contact.
- Keep dogs on leash and under control at all times
- Create and maintain space. Give wildlife lots of room to avoid you, never crowd around them.
- Do not stop to take pictures.
- Never feed wildlife. Avoid food-conditioning wolves or coyotes by securing all food and garbage.
- Prevent conflicts. Give all wild animals distance, not food. Avoid hiking alone. Keep children close.
- Be predator aware. Understand and watch for wildlife warning signs.
- Be informed and inform others of current information.
- Be prepared for an encounter. Carry deterrents such as noise makers, sticks, or bear spray, and know how to use them.
- Respect all wildlife and their right to be here.
Wildlife is regulated by the Province under the BC Wildlife Act and Regulations. If you have concerns about coyotes, please contact BC Conservation Services at 1 -877-952-7277. Bowen Island Municipality cannot trap or relocate wild animals.
Make your garbage and organics bins less attractive to animals:
Choose garbage and organics bins with wheels and locking lids.
Wrap your food scraps in old newspapers before you place them in your organics bin.
Freeze food scraps such as meat, bones, and skin, and add it to your organics bin on the morning of your collection.
Place your food scraps between layers of garden and yard waste in your organics cart to help minimize odours.
Rinse out the inside of your organics bin to help prevent food odours from building up.
To further reduce the chances of animals getting into your garbage or organics, put out your garbage and organics bins on collection day between 6:00 am and 8:00 am. Never leave them out overnight. Don’t add your food scraps to your cart until you place it at the curb.
Be bear aware
Bears are also attracted to foods that are not part of your garbage, and may wander into neighbourhoods after being attracted by fruit trees bearing over-ripe fruit, or easily accessible bird feeders, among other things.
Take steps to make your property less attractive to bears:
- Store garbage in a secure building until collection day, and ensure bins are tightly closed.
- If pets are fed outside, ensure all food is stored in a secure location or in a bear-resistant bin. Ensure all pet food is cleaned up after feeding.
- Clean barbeques after use, and clean the grease trap regularly.
- Pick fruit from trees and allow it to ripen inside. Don’t allow windfall to accumulate on the ground.
- Take bird feeders in at night, and keep the ground underneath the feeders clean and free of seed.
- Pick berries as soon as they ripen, or remove berry bushes if you don’t want the fruit.
- Keep chickens and small livestock in at night, and keep livestock feed indoors or in bear-resistant containers.
WildSafe BC has resources on how to reduce bear conflicts.
The Provincial Conservation Service recommends that Bowen Islanders use the Report All Poachers and Polluters (Rapp) portal if they have concerns about a bear encounter on Bowen Island.
For general inquiries please call the Provincial Conservation Service at 1-877-952-7277.
AnimalKind is the BC SPCA’s new animal welfare accreditation program for pest control companies.
If you find a fawn, seal pup or any other baby animal on its own in the spring, please don’t interfere! Mom is usually nearby, hunting or gathering food. If you think they may be hurt, sick or abandoned, keep your distance and contact BC SPCA, Wildlife Rescue Association of BC or Bowen Island Municipality at 604-947-4255 for advice.
Rat poison is a cruel way to kill any animal and is dangerous to other wildlife and to domestic pets. There are cases where pets, birds, and other animals end up taking poison from rat traps or dying from eating rodents that have dies from poisoning.
Poisons cause a slow and often painful death lasting from 2-14 days. Anticoagulants cause internal bleeding over weeks – an inhumane way for even a rodent to die, let alone your pet. Symptoms often go undetected until it’s too late.
CAWES – the Coast Animal Welfare and Education Society – has prepared an educational brochure providing alternatives to using rat poison.
Skunks are the most peace-loving, non aggressive animals you could ever meet.
They are slow moving with limited climbing skills. When left alone, skunks are rarely recognized in a neighbourhood and will happily live under the radar, foraging and hunting for food once the sun goes down. You will sometimes see skunks during the day.
Skunks are attracted to areas where food is abundant and there are places to hide during the day. By removing these things, you’re ensuring that any skunks looking for a new home will have to look elsewhere.
- Make sure any spaces under sheds, porches and decks are closed off with chicken wire or other sturdy materials.
- Remove rock and brush piles, old culverts and other pipe and anything else that might create an attractive den site.
- Keep outbuilding and garage doors tightly closed and check foundations for potential access points. It doesn’t take much of a hole or crack to allow access to a skunk.
- Clean up any fruit that may have dropped onto the ground from trees.
- Bring pet food into the house at night.
If people or pets have been sprayed
1. Combine: 1L of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 60 ml (1/4C) baking soda, 5 ml (1 tsp) liquid laundry or dish soap. Apply liberally.
- Options: Vanilla extract, Apple Cider Vinegar, juice of many lemons, tomato juice.
- A local pet store will have a few commercial options as well.
2. Rinse with water and repeat if necessary until the smell has been eliminated.
CAWES – the Coast Animal Welfare and Education Society – has prepared an educational brochure for living with Skunks.
AnimalKind is the BC SPCA’s animal welfare accreditation program for pest control companies.