Nanaimo is an ecological treasure trove of life. The beauty of the region and its wildlife is a major draw to many who embark on a boating holiday in the area. And this is why we all must work together to protect the natural environment from several human and non-human threats.
There are a number of wildlife reserves, nature parks, and a lot of different tour companies that operate within the Vancouver Island Region. There are also a variety of protection groups and environmental steward groups who work to ensure the natural diversity and beauty is protected.This is important work. Without groups like this it could be said that habitats would be in great decline, and there would be less for travellers to see!
As we know, nature and its inhabitants evolve, grow and move to suit the changing environment. Across the region we can now see a number of non-native species. The American Bullfrog, the Rock Dove, the Snapping Turtle, and the North American Opossum are some particularly intriguing examples. These new beautiful beasties are protected under the Wildlife Act.
There are also a number of wildlife rehabilitation programmes for indigenous species who are under threat from manmade habitat destruction or problematic natural phenomenon. One particular problem of late is not a decline, but in fact an increase in the number of wild cougar sightings. This is down to an increase in black-tail dear which is prey for the cougars. The food chain is a magical mechanism.
This has however lead to some controversy in the area as many people who have seen the dangerous looking cats in heavily populated areas are calling for a cull. Something environmentalists and conservationists are dead against. Groups opposed to the culling have suggested other measures to get on top of the problem such as birth control in the deer population.
Conservationists have been out on the ground setting humane traps which are constructed with the aim of capturing and relocating the animals. But locals are concerned more by the number of deer, as it is believed the predators will keep coming back whilst there is a large amount of prey for them.
Nature sometimes throws us problems such as this one. But there is one thing worth remembering – they were here before us. All animals are entitled to use of the land we have taken over. Therefore the safest and most moral way to move forward is through humane methods or trying to steer nature – not disrupt it further.
Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay said: “There’s just simply too many of them and they’re starting to bring some challenges to the community, some real safety challenges”. It is a concern that a cull is too controversial and also expensive and so officials are consulting with the community. It is estimated that a quarter of Canada’s 4,000 cougars are currently living on the island.
As well as the nuisance cougars, you can find wild bears, eagles, and mountain goats aplenty across the region. There are a number of specialist wildlife parks and tours which you can take appreciate nature at its finest.
Bears are also under attack in the region. Nanaimo based charity ‘Bear Matters’ works to try and put a stop to the ruthless killing of Grizzly Bears in the region. They work to conserve the bear population by providing a forum to raise awareness, fundraising, research, and working with other bear conservancy agencies around the world.
The charity argues that bears are highly evolved, intelligent, sentient beings that are a critical part of the natural environment. They have been active in helping to draft wildlife policies to promote the protection of bears through a reduction in human-bear interaction. Several species of bear are currently under threat. Whilst sailing around the isles you can often spot a bear catching his dinner on the shoreline. It is a magnificent sight, and one we must protect.
As a visitor to the region you have an important role to play. Visitors must appreciate the natural environment whether that be on land or at sea. It is the golden rule to leave places exactly how you found them – reduced human impact is a key part in protecting these glorious species so that next generations can have the pleasure of visiting them in their natural habitats too.
Why not keep a record of all the different animals you come across during your yachting trip to the Vancouver Isle. Conservation organisations love it when people record sightings, but also it will be interesting to compare what you see with the next time you visit!
Photo credit: vancouverislandoutdoor.com