Mille-Isles Wildlife

Barred Owl

OUR LESS COMMOM FAUNA

We have our share of deer, coyotes and foxes as well as an occasional moose. We also have some other mammals that we should get to learn about as they are rather rare here and deserve a chance to share the land with us and the other more common species. Also we must not forget the various bird species that are so delightful to observe in daylight and hear at night. One of the most primitive night sounds are the call of the Barred Owl such as the beautiful specimen seen in this photo taken by Mark Thurman as the owl was perched near their bird feeder.


Black bear

BLACK BEAR

Peacefully living amongst us, from time to time, is the occasional black bear. The reason we don't see them or hear about them is that they are naturally shy creatures. The presence of bears in our forest attests to the present quality of our local environment and their future will depend on our ability to preserve some of these green spaces for all creatures and to welcome them here.

Almost every year someone in Mille-Isles gets to see one and when this does happen the bear usually always flees at the sight or sounds of our activities. You see, real wild bears are fearful of humans and they try to avoid us at any cost. Staying away from us is what keeps them alive. Their other natural enemies are dogs (in a pack) and wolves.

Why do bears become dangerous? Well it's sad to say that in most cases we humans are responsible. When people see a bear on their property they sometimes set out food for them. That is the worst mistake humans can make. It does not take long for the bear to associate the smell of humans to the food they are fed. After a while this association (food/humans) removes the fear of humans from the bear. Eventually the bear gets to be bolder and bolder. Sometimes up to a point where the fear of humans has completely disappeared. This lack of fear makes it dangerous for both the bear and us. They stop running away at our presence, get into our garbage, then our gardens, campsites and, in extreme cases, may even break into houses. Once this happens then the bear has to be disposed of (destroyed). Relocating problem bears by moving to them to another location does not work. Why? Well even when removed many kilometres away the bear, if it survives, usually eventually comes back to his home grounds. Sometimes they don't get the chance to make it back as they are killed by the dominant male bear of the relocation area. If they don't come back or get killed they die of hunger as their new hunting grounds is unfamiliar to them.

Bear claw

There is a spring (season) hunt for bears. The way hunters usually go about the spring hunt is that they set up a "baiting station". That is, in a place frequented by a bear, they place a lot of food attractive to the bears. This "baiting" is done over a period of time before the legal hunting season starts. The hunter makes sure the bear's food supply is constant. Overlooking the baiting area is a "tree stand". As the bear returns every day to get the easy and tasteful food he is then shot from the tree stand when the hunting season opens. What happens if the bear has been "baited" but not shot during the spring hunt. Well we then have one heck of a fearless bear on our hands that now associates the tastiest of foods with the scent of man. No need to say more. Please save our bears by not feeding them or letting garbage (food) lying around.

Wild turkey

WILD TURKEYS

The wife and I had one heck of a surprise one August day when we spotted a wild turkey digging for grubs on our lawn. It was one of those many days we had the summer 0f 2008 with drizzling rain and low clouds.The turkey remained in sight for another few minutes giving us time to confirm our sighting. The bird we identified was a female like the one shown in this photo. The females are not as impressive as the males, called Tom's, but they sure are one big bird.

I had seen wild turkeys before, mostly females, but some males while travelling through the eastern USA however this was only the second wild turkey I'd seen in Québec province. My first Québec sighting was in the spring of 2007 when one crossed the 117, in front of the car, South of Labelle near the Rivière Rouge. Now we see them more often in Mille-Isles as their numbers increase. A little research and what do you know. These birds have been seen for the last 10 years now along the Rivière Rouge Valley between Arundel and Harrington. Apparently there are enough of them in our Province, mostly in the South, that in the spring of 2008, hunting for wild turkey was introduced in all zones of Québec. However in order to hunt them, besides being the holder of a hunter's certificate, the hunter must hold a special permit issued following a course on hunting wild turkey. However we wish them a peaceful and long life amongst us.

COYOTES AND WOLVES

Wolfs

On a couple of occasions, over the years, we have heard the midnight call of a lone wolf. Nowadays however we mostly hear the calls of mother coyotes and their offspring. One winter two wolves shared a very dense area of the woods, with a bull moose, just West of Ivan Lake about 800 meters from our home. The wolves lived off of hare that were abundant that winter. We helped them out by snaring some hare and leaving them there so the wolves could eat them. Every morning before work I would snowshoe in and set new snares as the wolves would break the snare wire when running off with the frozen hare. I often seen the moose but he paid little attention to me. I did get to see the wolves once. They were staring at me from a distance, standing right there in one of the winter runs they shared with the moose. Far from being the handsome animals that we see in nature documentaries, or that I have seen in the Arctic, these wolves were tall and thin. Just skin and bones. I suppose that the hare did not provide them with as much fat as they would normally need and find in the deer's winter yard. Early one morning that spring I seen one of the wolves again, on the road, near our house while on my mountain bike. That was the last time I saw a wolf in Mille-Isles. On five or six occasions, over the last twenty years, I've run into coyotes while hiking or mountain biking the various trails around the municipality and the Lac Gustave, Lac de la Montagne area. I'm sure many of the town's people have had similar experiences that they could share with us.