Critters of Bowen Island

A big draw for visitors and residents of Bowen Island is the abundant nature. Everywhere you look is covered in beautiful greenery. Our guests love to escape the concrete and noise of the city for the tranquility of the forest. But not everyone is prepared for all that the natural environment brings with it, i.e. it's fauna inhabitants.

Here we introduce you to some of the forest residents, a few of whom you may encounter both outside and inside in different seasons, but most of which are happy to stay out of the way of humans.

Photo by Greg Schecter

Big critters

City dwellers may be familiar with the scent of a skunk in the neighbourhood. They usually move on quickly and don't want to interact with humans. Though many folks dislike the misunderstood skunk, they are great at controlling rodent and some insect populations. They are mainly active in the early morning and evening, though can sometimes be seen during the day as well. Look ahead where you're walking and make noise so they hear you; skunks would rather run away than spray.

Mice and rats are part of all human settlements. You likely won't see these swift critters, but we encourage guests to put their garbage and compost in the correct bins, tightly locked, so as not to attract them as well as crows and ravens who love to make a mess of an unclosed bin.

Black bear photo by Alan D. Wilson

We generally don't have bears and cougars on Bowen Island. Once every five years a bear will be sighted, and a cougar once every ten years or so. They make their way from the surrounding coast for a visit, and usually make their way off again in due time.

Photo by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

Deer are everywhere on Bowen, and may startle you if they trigger a motion sensor light. Please drive the speed limit (40km/hr on-island, with slower zones in some areas) at all times, as deer will pop out of forests onto the roads. If you see a deer crossing while driving, slow down and look to where they came from, as there may be more in the group intending to cross. Babies are especially hard to see and are not yet used to cars, and sad stories are often shared of finding them on the side of the road as speeding-car-casualties. Please be careful when driving at all times.

The other populous big critter, besides humans and deer, are of course dogs. In cities people are very good about leashing their dogs and going to dog parks for a romp. However, you'll find that some folks on Bowen are less likely to leash their dogs, even where required by law.

Crippen Park and Snug Cove are on-leash areas. Crippen does have a fenced in dog park for off-leash play. On municipal property, e.g. Cape Roger Curtis, dogs must be within 3 meters of adult owners and in their control.

Please follow all leash laws, and pick up your dog's messes. Dog poop goes in the trash, never in the organics bins. And if you are strolling without a dog, don't hesitate to ask others to leash their dogs if you feel afraid or uncomfortable.

Little Critters

The charm of staying in cedar-scented wood homes is not lost on carpenter ants. Ants can appear indoors in the spring but pose no harm to humans. We treat our Bowen Island Accommodations homes for carpenter ants and sugar ants yearly, but you may still see a few here and there; we appreciate your patience with their small presence.

Spiders are around all year, but seem to ramp up their indoor web production in the fall. We realize not every guest appreciates their valuable service in controlling insect populations, so we do our best to remove them to the outdoors and their webs regularly.

While locals in some areas on Bowen report encountering ticks, others report never having seen a here. However, incidences of Lyme disease, carried by less than 1% of BC ticks, are very low in BC, so with some preventative steps, there is little need for worry. It never hurts to do a tick-check of your body after being outside and in contact with grasses, bushes, and branches, where tricks could drop onto your clothes. If you're doing some serious bush-whacking, tuck in long pants and wear long sleeves, and tie up long hair.

Photo by Stuart Meek

Wasps, or yellow jackets, are mostly a bother to humans trying to enjoy a nice outdoor barbecue in the summer, but they do play a vital role in the environment, such as pollinating and preying on other pest insects. We do our best to discourage wasps in and around our homes. Guests can reduce wasp encounters by not leaving sweets and proteins (meats, fish, etc.) lying exposed, as these will attract hungry wasps.

Photo by Judy Gallagher

Mosquitos are less of a problem on the breezy waterfront properties. To ensure none come inside, please use screens, where provided, on open windows and doors.


Of course, there are many other animal species living on Bowen, including eagles, vultures, songbirds, waterfowl, salmon, tree frogs, salamanders, red and flying squirrels, mink, and beautiful butterflies and other insects. Come with field guides and cameras to spot these and more critters as you make your way around Bowen trails.

We hope this small list of some of the animals of Bowen Island will make you feel prepared for your trip away from the big city and into big nature. Enjoying the outdoors (and indoors) on an island means tolerating, if not appreciating, everyone else who lives here too.