You will not be alone in the wilderness. The chance to observe wild animals as they go about their natural lives is one of the most fascinating experiences that Canada’s national parks have to offer. Along with this opportunity, however, comes the responsibility to treat wild animals with the respect they deserve, and need.
During the spring and summer you need to be prepared for biting insects such as blackflies and mosquitoes. Cover up or wear specially designed bug jackets. Use insect repellent. Learn more about the prevention and treatment of West Nile Virus (Public Health Agency of Canada).
There are areas in Kejimkujik where you will find poison ivy, a climbing plant of the sumac family. It grows on sandy, stony, or rocky shores, sprouts in thickets, in clearings, and along the borders of woods. The sap of the plant contains an oily resin that causes an irritating inflammation of the skin in most people. Learn more about about poison ivy (Health Canada).
Blacklegged (deer) tick and Lyme disease
Blacklegged ticks and the bacteria that cause Lyme disease are known to be present in mainland Nova Scotia, including Kejimkujik. From April to November, there is a small chance of being exposed to Lyme disease if bitten by an infected blacklegged (deer) tick. Lyme disease is a serious illness, however, it's easy to prevent and treat when caught early.
For more information on Lyme disease, blacklegged ticks, and how to protect yourself from tick bites while enjoying the outdoors, please visit the following resources:
The Public Health Agency of Canada’s Lyme Disease Fact Sheet
Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources: Tick Information
Dog ticks are also known to be present at Kejimkujik. Unlike Blacklegged ticks, Dog ticks do not carry Lyme disease. The presence of Dog ticks is very weather-dependent. Dog tick numbers decline when hot summer weather begins (often late June - early July) and remain present at reduced levels through the summer.
Black bears are opportunists, always on the lookout for "easy" calories. Once they find human food or garbage (if they become food-conditioned), they continue to seek it out from backpacks, picnic tables, coolers, etc. If they become accustomed to humans, their natural fear of people fades and they take more chances to find food rewards. These "spoiled bears" are unpredictable and may be aggressive. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to manage habituated, food-conditioned black bears. These bears often pay with their lives for human mistakes. The only true solution is not to create "problem bears" in the first place by making sure all food, trash and other possible bear attractants are stored properly.
Parks Canada is working with experts in coyote behaviour, wildlife management, and human behaviour and education to develop and implement best practices for public safety. Visitors to any park or natural area should be aware of the risk of wildlife encounters.
Here's what you can do to improve your personal safety:
- Do not feed coyotes and be sure to properly dispose of garbage and other food sources. Coyotes that have access to our food lose their fear of people.
- Hike with friends or carry a solid walking stick.
If you see a coyote at a distance
- Stay back. Do not approach the animal.
- Watch it carefully to assess its behaviour (e.g. Is the animal following you, acting without fear, openly aggressive, fearful, wary, etc.?)
If the coyote approaches or is close by
- NEVER run away. (Coyotes are capable of running much faster than humans.)
- Maintain your distance by walking away slowly. Do not turn your back.
- Stay together and try to scare the animal away.
- Make noise, swing sticks, and generally act big and aggressive.
If a coyote attacks
- Fight back. Shout, swing a stick, throw stones, use whatever is available to defend yourself.
Report all coyote sightings to Parks Canada staff. If approached by a coyote, report the incident immediately.
To learn more: