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Wilderness Adventures - August, Week 1/2011

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.

06/08/2011 7:25 PM

The Dump Grizzly

Today was the very first day all summer that gave us a clear blue sky with not a cloud in sight right from this morning until this evening, and it was beautiful!
For a couple of days after getting home from our trip last week, the weather was kind of sorry with rainy overcast and perfect for the continued well being of the blood sucking vampires, but things have definitely improved! While we have had clouds move in and out, we've seen more sun than not this past week and the added heat has definitely perked up my garden considerably, and driven the bugasaurs into the grass. Today was amazing with a warm breeze accompanying the sun and the last three days I've actually been able to accomplish quite a bit outside, sans bug netting.
It's been getting a little cool some nights, which means working outside first thing in the morning is actually very doable because the bugs are pretty sluggish until things heat up. Last night it got down to just two degrees above freezing but it doesn't seem to have done anything any harm. Now if this weather could just hang in there for another week or so.... and from all the forecast models so far, it looks like it's going to.
I was just at our refuse dump halfway between Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake and noticed that there's still a bear trap there. Just over three weeks ago I was talking to a lady who had stepped out of the share shed at the dump only to be confronted by a grizzly bear. She's from Bella Coola so she knew to yell and startle it so it would take off long enough for her to get into her truck. The dump is wired with electric fencing including the cattle guard, but she said the animal didn't even hesitate to cross the cattle guard ahead of her. I went up and asked a neighbour if he would go down and test the fencing the next morning in case all the cloudy days had caused the battery on the solar charger to drain. He checked the fencing and said it was carrying full charge so there was nothing wrong with the fence.
That evening Andy and I dropped in there on our way to taking some salads to the BCFA dinner and saw the grizzly big as life on the bank next to the garbage dump. We eased up on him with the truck and got within 30 feet of him before he picked up his bag of groceries and skedaddled for the fence at the back of the dump losing groceries out of the bag as he went. Just before the fence we saw some dirt flying as he dug and we figured he was burying his now empty garbage bag when pop! He was out on the other side of the fence! If he didn't have a hole there already, he had just dug one in a matter of seconds. Hard to believe considering his size. No youngster this boy, but a fully mature grizzly, I'm guessing male since no one has ever seen cubs, and at least four years old. He had a reddish brown coat and was actually a really nice looking animal. Unfortunately, now also probably a relatively dangerous one. A bear that will let you get that close to it with a vehicle is no longer afraid enough of people. And the fact that he was obviously not concerned by the electric shocks from the fence puts a grizzly bear into an enclosed space with a continuous stream of people, all bringing food.
The dump was providing lots of food to this bear, he had an excellent water source nearby and lots of good cover in the surrounding woods, so this guy had no reason to leave. What would happen is that he would gradually become more and more habituated to people and one day when he was feeding on a prize moose carcass in the dump (wild animals, parts and hides are often dumped there) his old instincts of protecting his kill would come to the fore and the chances are...the next person looking over the edge or throwing their garbage in would be exposed to a charge from the bear. What if they had kids with them?
The first thing I did was call Cariboo Regional District in Williams Lake on Monday morning and asked them to get a sign out here warning of a bear in the dump so that someone not informed would at least have a heads up, and the guy I talked to was very accommodating. I then went through all the channels and talked to a few different people in Fish and Wildlife and one of the CO's from 100 Mile House called me back by that afternoon about the bear. They had already received a couple of other calls and were headed out here the next day. He said they had the same experience with a bear up in Terrace that had become used to the shock from the electric fence and just wasn't bothered by it. We discussed options and I described the ideal surroundings including water source nearby. I didn't see there being a lot of point in trapping the bear and he agreed but they would come out and check out their options.
The thing with dump bears is once they get used to that great food source that provides such easy pickings, they aren't going to leave and if you make them leave, ie trap them and take them away, they'll just come back. It's said that bears can smell food up to 20 miles away so you would have to take this bear 50 to a 100 miles away. Now you're taking him into someone else's region and putting the problem on them. You could haul him a 1000 miles or so up into the Yukon or some other place where it's just wilderness, but who can afford to send two CO's, a truck and a bear that distance? However, I know that the CO's get slammed a lot if they're forced to shoot a bear and will usually try to trap and move where it makes sense, but to me, that probably isn't practical in this instance.
Hence, a trap set up just outside the dump fence. Apparently, though, the food has been removed from the trigger but the door hasn't shut. That sounds more like a person removing the food so that the bear won't be trapped. I can think of only one local crazy that we have that would do that and more power to her.
If the CO's were smart they simply shot the bear and quietly took it away and left a trap there just to make everyone happy but who knows? We left two days later on our little trip down south and I haven't heard much since. CRD had a sign up within a day and the next day it was gone. Whether they took it down or it was stolen is debatable. Apparently the sign went back up and the bear trap went in and that's where things have been since we've been back.
It's always a shame when an animal becomes habituated to humans and their food but in this case, I don't think more could be done to protect the animals from themselves or us than to put up a strong electric fence. I'm sure some would say, well if humans didn't live in bear habitat there wouldn't be any problem at all. Well.... I guess most of you who know me know what I have to say to that so I need not repeat it here.
I was mowing the lawn today and was floored to see how much the lake level has gone down. It's definitely at its low level for summer, even though this hasn't been a hot one. I wonder if someone tore out some beaver dams farther down the Dean because it sure seems to be a drastic drop in the past week or two.
We've had some real gunge in the water on our south facing shorefor the past week or so. It's algae like nothing I've ever seen before. As Andy said, it's so thick it looks like you could walk on it. Thankfully, after a brisk wind today most of it has been carried out. It's a month or two early and way thicker than usual so I can only assume it's the result of all the nutrients washed into the lake this year from the high water. I really hope that it doesn't change the oxygen levels or damage our wild fish stocks in Nimpo. We haven't seen a lot of wind this year, so the lake isn't turning over or renewing its oxygen levels as it usually does. I guess we'll know by next spring after ice off. Hopefully by then the particulates will have dropped out and our water will be clear again.

I got a new fishing reel for my birthday this year and Andy just brought home some new fly line to put on it which he did tonight. So I'm pretty excited about testing it out on the fish and definitely don't want to fight algae or see fewer fish this summer when we do get a chance to go out.
Hey! Speaking of which... I had some folks write to me through the website and they told me about a loon that kept going after their fish after they had them on the line. I mentioned last summer that someone else reported this happening on this lake, which I had never heard of before. Other lakes, yes. Here, no. Dennis and Lorraine have been coming up to Nimpo Lake since 1988 and a few years ago had this loon go after their fish. They didn't have a camera with them but brought one with them when they came back out on the lake after lunch. You have to see this photo. It's awesome! I'll post it up on the right but do check out the
Picture of the Day. I think you'll be impressed!
03/08/2011 7:15 PM

The Accident on the Bella Coola Hill

As you know, I wrote a blog on June 12/2011 about a tragic accident that occurred on the Bella Coola Hill at some unknown time last fall, winter or this early spring. Little was known about the gentleman found in his pickup over the side of the Bella Coola Hill although there was great conjecture while RCMP gathered more information and notified family members.
This week I received an email in regard to the accident and since many people have emailed me asking if there was more information about the man, I would like to post here what was sent to me.
"His name was Ian. He was a beautiful boy who fought on behalf of our country. He was a brother, a son and the father of twin boys.
Ian loved nature and wilderness and wildlife and he is the deceased man who was found perished in a traffic accident in Bella Coola in June. Hopefully, this knowledge will find closure in your town via the simple offering of prayers for his family."

We salute you, Ian.
I think the photos on the right are most appropriate and are courtesy of Ted Hlokoff.
This is the start of a new week so you'll find last month's blog at July Week Three..

The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!

Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Loon diving toward a fish on a chain.
Bald Eagle landing.
Eagle feathers ruffled.
Immature eagle flying.
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