WorkSafe BC, Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, has released information about the number and type animal attacks from 2005 to 2011.
From 2005 to 2011, WorkSafe BC accepted:
- 13 claims, including 1 fatality, for injuries caused by direct contact between a bear and a worker
- 10 claims related to bears that involved no contact with the animal; injuries occurred from being chased, confronted, or startled by a bear
- And 23 claims for incidents with animals (wild and/or domesticated) other than bears
Amongst those incidents not involving bears included workers being kicked by cows, pushed by sea lions and bit by lemurs
According to the agency industries and occupations whose activities put workers at risk of encounters with bears and other wild animals include oil and gas, silviculture, parks and conservation, forestry, guides, outfitters, industrial or recreational camps, orchards, garbage collection, commercial fishing, and construction.
Here are some general guidelines for dealing with wild animals:
- Wild animals generally avoid human contact, but if you do see an animal in the wild, maintain your distance. Don’t attempt to feed, catch or pet a wild animal. Never approach wildlife babies or animal mothers with their babies; the mother’s protective response can be very fierce. Report injured or aggressive animals to authorities; don’t attempt to give aid to injured wildlife. If an injured animal approaches you, move slowly away.
- Bears try to avoid people, but if you do see one, make as much noise as possible. Do not corner a bear. If the bear feels trapped, it may act aggressively. To avoid attracting hungry animals don’t carry food products, don’t keep food near you, and don’t leave food in your opened vehicle.
- Avoiding animals is the best prevention for rabies, but if you are bitten, scratched, or licked by a wild animal, wash the area with soap and water immediately. If it is possible and safe to do so, try to trap the animal for testing. Seek medical treatment right away. If you are in frequent contact with wild animals, there are vaccines available to prevent rabies.
- As a last means of defense against aggressive animals, pepper spray can be used. To be effective, it must be sprayed directly into the animal’s face. However, a breeze could blow the spray away or into your face. If you do decide to use pepper spray, get training to use it properly and safely.