Pikwakanagan is situated in a rural setting close to Algonquin Park and a number of other provincial parks. There is an abundant amount of wildlife, including bears; which are often seen in the community.
Wildlife will scour and scavenge for food when their natural diet is scarce. Raccoons, bears, skunks and other animals will approach household garbage looking for things to eat.
Remember that while raccoons, baby skunks and bear cubs can appear cute and friendly, they are wild animals and deserve respect. Do not tease or torment frightened animals. A mother will protect her babies at all costs and may attack with sharp claws and teeth.
If wildlife has become troublesome or dangerous, call the Algonquin Harvest Department for assistance.
The original names for the raccoon come from the tribal languages of Native Americans. While some of these names have survived the centuries, many are no longer used.
Names describing agile forepaws:
Abnaki: asban, one who lifts up things
Old Algonkin: ah-rah-koon-em, meaning they rub, scrub, scratch
Modern Algonquin: Esiban (close to Abnaki word for one who lifts up things)
This highly intelligent animal can be found throughout most of southern Canada with the exception of Newfoundland. The average weight of an adult male is 8.5 kg. The largest reported weighing in at over 28 kg.
Raccoons live in forested areas near water. Some of their favourite foods come from the water including crayfish, frogs, small fish and turtles. Raccoons will eat wild berries, corn and mice. They are mainly nocturnal and are generally mild-mannered but have been known to fight bravely when defending themselves. Their teeth and claws are very sharp.
Raccoons are highly intelligent and use their hands much like humans with great dexterity. They can open closed containers and get into the oddest places. You will often find them scavenging around homes. Raccoons will eat just about anything they can find in your garbage although they prefer sweets, fruits, bread, peanut butter and especially cat and dog food. While they appear cute and docile, do not attempt to feed raccoons. They will return often for handouts and may get lazy when providing food for themselves. A raccoon may bite you accidentally if you attempt to feed him by hand or he may bite you on purpose if he thinks you are taking his food away from him.
Remember that raccoons are wild animals and they survive best in their natural habitat and deserve our respect.
Skunks are found throughout Ontario. They live along the edge of the forest or in pastures where there are bushes. They are easily distinguished by their black coat and two white stripes down their back which begins as one thick stripe on their head. The skunk is about the same size as a house cat. Its eyes and ears are small and cannot see too well, but have a good sense of hearing.
Skunks are primarily nocturnal and have few natural enemies, the main one being the great horned owl. At night they venture out catching insects and looking for fruit. They also eat meadow mice, gophers, moles and chipmunks. The skunk does not hibernate in winter but sleeps often with frequent waking periods.
The skunk is most famous for its odour. A skunk has musk glands and can shoot a foul liquid when threatened. First, it will give a warning when something approaches it. It will stamp the ground with its feet and snap its teeth. If the threat continues the skunk will quickly turn around, lift up its tail and spray. The liquid can shoot out as far as four meters.
Many concoctions have been devised to rid pets and humans of skunk odour but they don't really work and time is the only cure. It is a wise to give skunks lots of space.
The black bear ranges across forested regions of Ontario. A solitary animal most of the year, they pair up briefly during the mating season. Cubs remain with their mother for about a year.
Black bears swim well and often climb trees to feed on buds and fruit. They have a keen sense of smell, acute hearing, but poor eyesight. Bears can be seen at any hour of the day, but are most active at night.
Black bears are omnivorous; they eat insects, roots, berries, fish and nuts. Their diet consists of about 75 percent vegetable matter, 15 percent carrion, and 10 percent insects and small mammals. Their love for honey is well known and ripe sweet corn is a delicious treat.
Bears are highly intelligent and can quickly locate food sources when necessary. They can often been found here in the community scouring through the dump. While black bears are naturally timid they have been known to lose their fear of humans through repeated exposure.
Many bears venture close to human habitats in search of food but not all bears are troublesome creatures. The bear is a special animal and deserves our respect.
Some information of the above information gathered on bears including tips on reducing the likelihood of coming in contact with wildlife came from www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/bears. For more information and assistance with bear concerns contact: www.troublebruin.net/home.html