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With spring and melting snow tick season arrives, but don't panic

Spring means tick time in Kamloops.
Image Credit: SOURCE/Wikipedia
March 21, 2017 - 8:00 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - As spring begins to show up, so do ticks, snakes and bear encounters.

First to arrive will be ticks. Frank Ritcey, coordinator with WildSafe B.C. says tick season is a little later due to the cold weather, but as snow melts the little bloodsuckers will be more common.

“Wherever you have deer, you could have ticks,” he says. “When you get home from a day of hiking, make sure you check yourself all over.”

People have some misconceptions about ticks, he says. Because people often find ticks near their hairline or on their necks, the common belief is that they drop from trees, but more often ticks are in the grass or brush and climb up until they find bare skin and a good place to feed. To help combat that, he suggest people tuck their pant legs into their boots or socks and use DEET based repellents.

“As soon as they latch onto their new host they keep climbing upwards,” he says. “They keep going until they find a place a host would have difficulty removing them.”

Also, since ticks are wherever deer are, there’s a chance ticks may be in unexpected locations, as deer travel into the city and suburbia.

A bit of good news, though, is that the tick species that carries lyme disease, the disease Ritcey says most people fear, is seen on the coast and uncommon in the Thompson and Okanagan areas, though it can be found inland. While paralysis is also possible, it’s often cured with the removal of the tick, though it’s a bigger concern for small dogs or smaller pets. As they bite a variety of animals and come into contact, different diseases could be transported to people or pets.

Other tips for dealing with ticks includes taking off outerwear while still in your garage and checking the car after being in tick country.

This time of year, deer can also be an animal to avoid. As fawns are born, Ritcey warns their parents can get defensive.

“Deer can be very defensive when they have young; that’s when we get a lot of calls about aggressive deer,” he says. “The deer is actually being defensive and it’s defending its young.”

Fawns found on their own should be left alone, as well. Ritcey says often well-meaning people will try to help a fawn that’s found alone on the ground in the wild thinking it has been abandoned, not realizing a parent is off feeding and will return shortly.

While it is spring, other animals are less of a concern right now. Ritcey says bears aren’t really on Wildsafe B.C.'s radar yet, with the longer cold season. Rattlesnake season hasn’t started either, as they need at least a couple days of 20 C weather before appearing.

“In the Okanagan where it warms up sooner you’re going to get snakes emerging sooner down there,” he says.

A reminder; rattle snakes are a protected species, so if seen, they should be avoided and left alone.

One suggestion always stands, as well, Ritcey says, and that’s for dogs to be on leashes in the wild. Often they can disturb wildlife, resulting in painful encounters like snake bites. More seriously, Ritcey says more than 50 per cent of bear maulings in North America happen with people who are out walking a dog.

“It views the dog as an immediate threat because the wolves and the bear are competitors,” he says.

Because humans aren’t considered an immediate threat, a mother bear with cubs is more likely to let a person walk past unharmed if there’s no dog present while a dog off leash is more likely to cause an issue.


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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