Foraging is a popular outdoor pastime that can benefit personal health, encourage a connection to nature, and provide sustainability. But autumn is also a time of year when wild animals of many species are seeking meals before winter settles in. This means those seeking mushrooms, berries, or other foraged items need to take extra care. (Please note, this is not an endorsement of foraging by The Fur-Bearers.)
Here’s a few tips that will help keep you, and wildlife, safe this fall:
1 Always be mindful of your surroundings. When in nature, we can expect to see wildlife. Keeping your eyes and ears open – and unblocked by headphones, hats, etc. – can give you an opportunity to prevent a negative conflict with wildlife from occurring.
2 Take only what you need. Foraging responsibly means knowing how much to take – and how much to leave behind. Work with a local foragers, naturalist, or nature club to learn more about what the ecosystem needs to stay healthy before removing any food sources. If you see wildlife collecting the same foodstuffs, it’s best to move on.
3 Keep dogs leashed. While dogs deserve ways to express their needs and enjoy off-leash time, they can also inadvertently create negative encounters with wildlife that leave them, their companions, or the wild animals harassed, injured, or even killed.
4 Be wary of traps. Fall is when trapping seasons open across Canada. As there is no legal requirement for posting signs in active trapping areas, and baiting is frequently allowed, the risks to people (and pets) increase dramatically in greenspaces during these seasons. Be aware that trapping may be taking place and learn how to safely help a pet caught in a trap with our video (click here).
5 Be prepared and plan ahead. Before heading into a new or known natural area, take a look online to ensure there are no safety hazards, trail closures, weather conditions, and other factors in play. If you’ll be in areas where you can expect to see larger wildlife like coyotes or black bears, take time to learn how to be safe while in these animals’ habitat. And whenever you head out, ensure someone knows your plan, and when you expect to be back.
No matter the activity you enjoy, be safe and mindful of wildlife and habitat this fall while exploring the outdoors.