Meadowridge is fortunate to have over 27 acres of creeks, trees, and trails on which we live and learn. Hidden behind the trees, students and staff often encounter wildlife in the North Forest. In any natural setting, at home or at school, we create the opportunity to have an animal encounter. In addition to in-class safety sessions with Meadowridge’s Director of Environment and Risk, we’ve saved our top tips for what to do if you encounter a bear, deer, bunny, or snake.
If you see a bear while walking through the forest, remember to stay calm. Avoid surprising a bear. If the bear doesn’t see you, leave the area in the direction you came and alert the first teacher or staff member you see. If the bear sees you and does not leave, talk in a low, calm voice and continue making noise (call, sing, clap, or talk loudly). Make yourself appear larger than you are, retreat backwards, and head to the nearest entrance into the school. Remember to never turn your back on a bear or run. Give the bear space, make sure it has a way to get away, and do not block access to a bear’s cub or its food. As you head towards the school, tell the first teacher or staff member you see so they can alert the community, and keep everyone safe.
A deer’s natural response to danger is to run. Always leave it an escape route and never approach or pet a deer. Deer are known to be gentle animals but it is always best to respect their space. If you see a deer, slowly back away and leave the area. Face the deer as you back away because they are more likely to charge from behind if they feel threatened.
If you’re lucky, you might see a bunny hidden in the garden or bushes across campus. As much as you might want to pick up and hug the bunny, it’s best to leave them alone and admire from afar.
It’s best to leave snakes alone and try to disturb them as little as possible. If you encounter a snake, remain calm. Snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them. The first thing you should do is stop to ensure you don’t accidentally step on the snake. Once the snake has been located, slowly back away from the snake and give it lots of space.
A coyote could wander through the North Forest, enjoying the trails and the wonderful greenery Meadowridge has to offer. While they are known as naturally curious animals, they are also known to be timid and prefer to run away if challenged. If you see a coyote or a wolf, scare it away, and do not run away. Use stones, sticks, rocks, loud noises, and wave your arms and yell while making eye contact. Back away slowly, make yourself as large as possible, and return to the school and report it to the first staff member you see.
Remember to give all wildlife lots of room to avoid you and never crowd around them. Do not offer food to any wildlife you see. Only take photos if the setting is safe such as there is enough distance, the animal hasn’t noticed you, or it is not an aggressive animal such as a bunny or snake. Meadowridge is fortunate to be surrounded by forest and to have such an abundance of greenery. It is important that as a community, we respect all wildlife and their right to be here.