Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, August 01, 2016

Close Encounters of a Peculiar Kind

"He was coming in my boat whether I liked it or not, and he was telling me to get out."
"I just glanced to the front of my boat, and that's when I seen this critter swimming in the water. It kind of disappeared from sight. I couldn't see it as it went around the side of the boat."
"I went to the side to look over, and then I heard him come snarling over the transom, between the motors. Right away, as soon as I saw his face, I knew what it was ... I know badgers, and I didn't want him in the boat with me."
"I reached and grabbed my net, which has a long handle, and I turned around and tried shoving him with the handle into the water."
"I didn't want to just really bat him one. I was pushing on him with a paddle, and I just about got him in the water, and he came back again. He was gaining on me. I just gave him a little harder rap on the nose and I broke my paddle. But I was able to push him in the water."
"It seemed like it lasted forever, but it was probably only a minute or two. I've dealt with nuisance wildlife all my life. It wasn't new to me. But this kind of incident was kind of new. Never heard of it happening before."
Ron Lancour, outdoorsman, Sheridan Lake, British Columbia
Badgers are an endangered species and extremely rare in B.C.
Badgers are an endangered species and extremely rare in B.C. (Karl Larsen)

He was about a kilometre from shore, fishing on a quiet Friday afternoon four days ago, when he noticed something swimming in his direction. The animal he later identified was snarling as it came abreast of the front of his boat and appeared to be attempting to clamber aboard, definitely without invitation, definitely with a purpose in mind that Ron Lancour felt instinctively would not be to his own advantage.

A wholly unorthodox meeting on a lake between two land-based mammals, one of them plentiful on the land, the other seen in far fewer numbers, so the responsibility of the human was to ensure that his actions in defending himself from an obviously irate animal would not remove a fairly rare specimen from the landscape, despite the puzzling circumstances. It must have entered the man's mind that the creature could be rabid?

Mr. Lancour wasn't just anyone out for a day's fishing with little clue as to the confluence of man and beast for he is a nature-lover and at one time was contracted to trap bears for the city of Kelowna, British Columbia, his home base. He had been out on the lake, his favourite fishing venue in the area, for roughly an hour that day, half-asleep with the motion of the boat on the water and the pleasant ambiance.

He came speedily awake as he realized the intention of the creature he hadn't yet identified. His years as a trapper had equipped him with the ability to react swiftly and appropriately in relation to most man-and-beast encounters. On this occasion he reached for the first tool that came to hand, a net, to respond to the 10-kilogram animal's intention. The badger began chewing the handle of the net that Mr. Lancour was using to try to push him back into the water.

He was, throughout the encounter, aware that there are but 200 badgers remaining in British Columbia, which places them into an endangered classification. Killing one, however inadvertently, he felt, would not reflect well on a man adept with handling rogue wildlife who felt a personal responsibility to the protection of the diversity of animal life in a natural setting.

Gavin Young/Postmedia/File
Gavin Young/Postmedia/File   A B.C. badger expert told Ron Lancour that badgers are “very docile and not aggressive.” Not always, it seems.

The badger eventually made its way in the water to the back of the boat where once again it clambered aboard, so Mr. Lancour, now holding an oar that had splintered from its last task to persuade the badger to return to the water at the front of the boat just moments earlier, finally succeeded to knock the badger off the boat with it. At which point the badger admitted -- to itself, at least -- that the encounter had not been a successful one for itself and speedily swam off to shore.

Mr. Lancour breathed a sigh of genuine relief, marvelled at the episode that had just occurred, and settled down for another hour-and-a-half of fishing on a beautiful Friday.

Ron Lancour, the B.C. man who fended off the badger attack, with a 3.5-kg rainbow trout he caught in Sheridan Lake this week.
Supplied by Ron Lancour     Ron Lancour, the B.C. man who fended off the badger attack, with a 3.5-kg rainbow trout he caught in Sheridan Lake this week.

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