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Stellar Jay by Bird Atlas

Who is Your Wildlife Companion In British Columbia?

Pack the Car | Mentalfloss/Pinterest

Have you ever thought about who your camping companions really are? No, I don’t mean the ones who helped you pack for the trip and set up camp – I mean your wildlife companions.  Have you ever just sat quietly for 60 seconds and listened?  I mean really, really listened to all that you hear in that brief moment of time.  Take a moment to take in the sounds, sights, and smells of a campsite.  This could make a great camping activity for the whole family, by making it a family tradition where once a day the whole family sits in silence for just 60 seconds (at different times each day) and make a note of all that you hear (If you have children, this could be a segway to a future school project during the school year).

Stellar Jay | Bird Atlas

Most times, you will hear a barking dog, a crow, a raven or even the bright blue Stellar Jays who makes harsh, nasally chirping sounds – I refer to them as the food thieves of the camp, so don’t leave that snack bowl unattended as one in a bowl means a whole flock is sure to follow, one by one.   You may even see the gray and black Whiskey Jacks – aka the Canada Jay, Robins, Geese, Owls, Eagles as well as seagulls (depending on your location) but there are others lurking in the treed forest you are calling home for a few days each year. 

Whiskey Jack | Canadian National Geographic

Now that we have covered the feathered ones, what about the ones you can see?  Most of us can say we have seen a squirrel or chipmunk as well as a raccoon while we camp, possibly even a deer, or you’ve been lucky enough to see a bear.  But have you really looked? What others are out there?  You might have even seen a ground squirrel – you know, they are the ones that are perfectly perched on their hind legs letting out a short squeak now and then. What about the ones that scurry along every night while you sleep? Busy out there rummaging through everything to get every last morsel that was dropped on the ground – they are the deer mice – the ones with the bulging eyes.  I had one enter my RV just this past summer – so my tip to you is that you make sure everything is sealed in airtight containers to lessen the attraction via their nose!  A bowl of pistachios left on my counter was the attractant.  And if you camp in tents, never snack in the tent either.

Ground Squirrel at Manning Park | Jozzie Productions

What about the ones you don’t immediately see?  Like ants, spiders, worms, and flies?  Then there are those pesky flying insects like mosquitoes, noseeums, black flies, and the Crane Fly better known as Leather Jackets (aka Daddy Long Legs or Mosquito Hawks) and an infestation that hit some parks in British Columbia in the summer of ‘22, where we saw large numbers of the yellow Tussock Moth, which feed on the needles of the Douglas Fir and can decimate a forest in a year and a half.

Tussock Moth | The Canadian Press

The next time you are out camping – take a minute (we know you have it) to just sit, relax and try to detect all the wonderful and not so wonderful creatures of the day and into the night. 

Sounds of Camping Sign | PoMoDee

For places to camp in British Columbia go to Camping & RVing BC Camping Map.

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British Columbia’s Wildlife A Sight to Behold

British Columbia is known for its magnificent mountains, pristine lakes, lush green forests and the Pacific Ocean. It’s therefore not surprising that residing within this bountiful environment are well over 1,000 different species of wildlife including hundreds of birds and fish, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

Big Horn Sheep
Big Horn Sheep

Wildlife viewing continues to grow in popularity. Viewing platforms have been installed in some of the more popular areas but often you will see wildlife as you drive BC’s highways. In the spring when the grass is sprouting, black bears can be found grazing along the roadside verges and deer have a propensity to dart across any road in every corner of the province, so drivers should beware.

Mountain goats, big horn sheep, elk and caribou are seen in some areas of the province. In remoter regions are plains bison and grizzly bears. Moose can be spotted in the mountains in Manning Park, the Rockies, and Northern British Columbia.  The aptly named Moose Valley Provincial Park near 100 Mile House in the Cariboo and Bowron Lake Provincial Park are well-known for moose viewing. And if you are very lucky you may even glimpse the white spirit bear, also called the Kermode bear, which lives in the coastal mountain ranges.

Heron Photo: Province of BC
Heron | Province of BC

For bird lovers, many species reside in British Columbia, either year-round or during the warmer seasons. In the spring and fall, birders line pathways and fields photographing the thousands of birds on their migration routes. The Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta is a popular viewing area in the south-west area of the province. Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area and the Columbia Wetlands, both in the Kootenay Rockies, offer waterfowl viewing in abundance. There is a bird trail in the Okanagan and many of the lakes in the Cariboo and Northern BC are home to well-known as well as rarely seen bird species.

Eagles and hawks, trumpeter swans, waterfowl, songbirds, herons and cranes, and the well-known Canadian loon with its recognizable call are just a few of the species seen throughout BC. Bald eagles enjoy feasting on salmon and are often found soaring through the skies in coastal areas. One of the most popular places to find bald eagles is on the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler in Brackendale, near Squamish.

Killer whales (orcas), grey whales and sea lions are just some of the marine life found in and around British Columbia’s Pacific coastline, with popular whale watching tours offering excellent viewing opportunities during April to October.

Mountain Goat Photo: Province of BC
Mountain Goat | Province of BC

Tips on Viewing Wildlife

  • Use a viewing guide
  • Understand when you are most likely to see wild animals – time of day, time of year
  • Be patient and quiet – it could take a while
  • Wear proper clothing and protect your skin from insects and the heat of the sun
  • Stay on designated roads and trails to avoid damaging the vegetation
  • Respect private property

Wildlife Viewing Safety

  • View wildlife from a distance to avoid scaring the animals. These are wild animals and some can be dangerous
  • Don’t approach young animals as their protective mothers will be nearby
  • Control pets
  • Do not feed wildlife
  • Pay attention to posted notices and warnings about wildlife that may be in the area
  • Deer and other wildlife can be found on BC’s roads and highways, so be alert and take care
Black Bear Northern BC 5051
Black Bear

Other Useful Information

Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resources is an excellent resource for information on viewing wildlife in BC. They provide brochures of the province’s regions, as well as specific areas within those regions, some communities, bird checklists, and more. You can review and download brochures from Wildlife Viewing Publications.

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The BC Nature Guide is published by BC Nature Federation of BC Naturalists. It provides viewing maps as well as tips on viewing wildlife in BC.

The BC Parks Bear safety guide offers tips on how to be ‘bear safe’.

Best Places to Spot Wildlife in British Columbia – Travel Blog

Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resources Wildlife Viewing in BC

BC Nature

Read Blogs on the Camping & RV in BC website that include wildlife spotted on visitors’ travels in British Columbia.

For places to camp in British Columbia go to the Camping Map

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc, #explorebc, #bcnice

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

Published: March 1st, 2022

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