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Summer vacation hints :

Canadian mosquitoes are the meanest in the world.
(Reprinted from "Almaguin News" - SUMMER 1997)

Canadian moscquitoes are considered among the most aggressive and bothersome of the world's estimated 3,000 species. There are 1,200 species of black flies worldwide.Ten per cent of black flies are found commonly in Canada - perhaps too common for most people's liking. But armed with a simple game plan based on common sense and and insect know-how, you can have the winning edge in this age-old contest.

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Mosquitoes - what reels them in ?
(Reprinted from "Almaguin News" - SUMMER 1997)

People who think they get picked on by mosquitoes more than others may not be imagining it. Everything from a person's temperature to temperament can have an impact on their mosquito magnetism.These relentless summer biters can detect everything from movement and clothing colours to breath and perspiration. So read up and take cover.

        Carbon dioxide and body temperature - the mosquito can sense your breath and body warmth from up to six meteres away.

        Movement - studies have shown that movement may increase biting activity up to 50 per cent. Mosquitoes find nervous, fidgety people more attractive than calm people.

        Clothing colour - mosquitoes have sophisticated vision capabilities and prefer darker shades.

        Strong fragrances - from shampoo to after shave, heavily scented toiletries may be mosquito attractants.

        Perspiration - sweat is an attractant to mosquitoes and causes repellents to lose their effectiveness sooner. Apply repellent more frequently in hot and humid conditions.

        Time of day - mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.

        Weather - mosquitoes prefer hot and humid conditions. Heavy intermittent rain leads to abundant populations.

        Yard debris and standing water - carelessly discarded toys, yard litter, uncovered firewood, clogged eavestrough ... virtually anything that may accumulate water ... are prime spots for mosquito development.

        Unkept lawns - long grass is a favourite mosquito resting area.

        Werewolves of the Insect World - one study found mosquito flight activity increases by up to 500 per cent under a full moon.

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Blackfly is discreet.
(Reprinted from "Almaguin News" - SUMMER 1997)

The Canadian black fly is the most discreet of all summer biting flies. Its bite often goes totally unnoticed at first, with swelling and pain sometimes occuring up to several hours later.
       Blackflies don't actually bite - they use their saw-like teeth to scrape the skin surface and then lick the blood from the wound. Because of their tiny size, they tend to fly into people's eyes, ears and nostrils.
       Blackflies only bite during daylight hours with biting activity peaking in early morning and late afternoon and on warm, overcast days.
       Blackflies can't bite through blue jeans and become claustrophobic indoors, making it impossible for them to bite. Because of their small size, blackflies find the tiniest openings in clothing to bite unprotected skin.
       Blackflies prefer cool, fast running streams as breeding and hatching habitats. They lay up to 500 eggs at a time.
While black fly populations, tend to peak in late May and early June, in more northern areas of Canada, the season can extend into late October.

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Floating: an essential part of boating enjoyment.
(Reprinted from "Almaguin News" - SUMMER 1997)

Boating is an essential part of enjoying life for millions of Canadians. Each year over half the population goes out in a small boat at least once, be it for fishing, water skiing, or just a quiet afternoon cruise. And every year some of these boaters end up in the water.
   Unfortunately some end up drowning.
   Even more unfortunate is the fact that most of these people own a life jacket, but they were not wearing it. The majority of fatal boating accidents in Canada result from falling overboard or a sudden capsize. There was no time to put on a Lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device!
   By law, every boat must carry a Department of Transport approved lifejacket or PFD of appropriate size for every person on board. But if your lifejacket is under your picnic lunch or carefully stowed away, its essentially useless in an emergency.    There are three basic types of flotation aids for boaters who inadvertently find themselves in the water. The most convenient and wearable are the Personal Flotation Devices or PFDs. These provide enough flotation to help a conscious person swim easily. Best of all they come in a variety of styles ranging from the familiar vest to tailored coats.
   The next type is the Small Vessel Lifejacket which provides more flotation and will turn an unconscious victim face up, but is bulkier than the PFD. The Lifejacket with the most flotation which will also turn an unconscious victim face up is the Standard Lifejacket. These are quite bulky but provide unparalleled support in rough water. They are the best jacket if you are forced to leave a sinking boat in rough or open waters.
   The Canadian Safe Boating Council urges all boaters to wear their PFD's or Life jackets.

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Protect yourself from UV rays
(Reprinted from "Almaguin News" - SUMMER 1997)

   Don't be deceived, by clouds, fog or cool temperatures - a certain degree of UV rays are at work all day, all year and in most types of weather.
   Clouds can be deceiving and people naturally think they block the sun's rays. However, only a thick, heavy layer of cloud really blocks, UV rays, while puffy or thin layers of cloud let most of them through.
   People often confuse temperature and UV as well, believing it safe to ski on a sunny day without being affected by the sun's rays. But Health Canada cautions that, although light clouds or breezes make you feel cooler, they won't reduce the UV.
   There are three types of UV rays, UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC rays are very strong but never reach the earth because they're filtered out by the atmosphere. The health effects of the first two, however, are very important to understand.    UVB rays, or "burning rays" are dangerous to unprotected skin. Burns can, actually alter the structure of skin cells and result in skin damage. UVB rays are strongest between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
   UVA rays are present all day long, every day of the year. The deep penetration of UVA rays gradually results in production of fine lines in the skin. UVA rays may also amplify the damaging effect of UVB rays.The best solution would be to avoid the sun altogether. But since that's almost impossible, you should continue to enjoy the outdoors and adopt behaviours that will protect you and your family from the sun all year long. Here are some tips to make sun protection practical and easy.

   Sun Protection Tips:


 UV Index 


Sunburn Time

over 9


less than 15 minutes

7 - 9


about 20 minutes

4 - 7


about 30 minutes

0 - 4


more than one hour

When the UV index is over 9, UVB is extremely strong and you will bum in less than 15 minutes. Using a sunscreen lotion daily with UV Defense SPF 15 is very effective protection.

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Take care of your catch
(Reprinted from "Almaguin News" - SUMMER 1997)

Does your summertime catch taste, well ... fishy?
Actually, fish is fish. It has a distinct, pleasing taste. If it tasted like liver, then
you'd have something to complain about. Often, the real problem that causes a "strong" fishy taste comes from improper handling, according to fishing experts.       Hanging fish on a stringer during the heat of summer leads to spoiled meat. As they slowly die in the sun-baked surface water, fish deteriorate. The condition is aggravated if fish are transported on the deck of a boat while running across the lake.
     If a catch undergoes this treatment, little can be done to prevent the fish from tasting "fishy".
     Live wells offer a solution only if adequate aeration is provided to keep the fish alive. During extremely hot summer months, it's next to impossible to keep more than a few fish aliye even in a live well.
     The best solution is to release all but a few for dinner. Those eating-size fish should be knocked out with a sharp blow to the top of the head and placed on ice. The fish should be kept on ice until they're ready to be cleaned. If photos are to be taken, do it as quickly as possible.
     Fillet fish on a clean surface with a clean knife. When filleting, always cut away the lateral line, that strip of dark meat down the middle, of each fillet.
     The fillets should be washed thoroughly, sealed in zip-lock bags and set on a layer of ice during transportation. Never store fish in water, even for short periods of time.
     Fresh fish always taste best. Fish can be kept in a refrigerator (covered) for up to 24 hours. After that time, the fillets should be frozen. Many anglers keep only enough fish to eat and refuse to freeze their catch.
     However, with proper freezing care, the eating quality of the meat will remain excellent for up to a year.
     The inner layer should be cellophane wrap. Try to make a solid contact with the meat, forcing out excess air. This will reduce the possibility of freezer burn. The outer layer should be freezer paper or a sealable (locked) freezer bag.
     When thawing, never soak fish in hot water. Start the thawing process at room temperature.

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You and the Black Bear
(Reprinted from "Algonquin Provincial Park - Parkway Corridor" - 1997 Season)

    Most visitors to Algonquin want to see wild animals and the Black Bear is very high on their list. We believe the Park has about 2000 bears--so you do have a chance to spot one but there is at least one circumstance in which seeing a bear is not at all desirable. That situation occurs when the bear is eating food from your cooler!
    Fortunately, this sort of occurrence is not nearly so common as it once was. We say fortunately, because when bears lose their natural fear of human beings and begin to visit campgrounds they almost always have to be destroyed. Fifteen or twenty years ago it was quite normal for Park staff to shoot 40 or more bears in a single summer because that many had become so fearless and destructive that there was no other choice.
    This was a sorry state of affairs because the whole point of having campgrounds in a park like Algonquin is to enable people to spend some time in, and enjoy, a natural environment, including its wildlife--not bring about the destruction of that wildlife. And, make no mistake about it, it was the bears that were being victimized by people not the other way around.
    To understand why this was so and why the situation has improved, you have to realize that bears, like most animals, are constantly looking for food. Although they are large and powerful, bears aren't particularly fast and they survive by eating almost anything that is edible and can't get away. This may include very young fawns or moose calves but more often it means things like aspen leaves, berries, or grubs that it reaches by ripping apart old rotting logs. Normally bears are afraid of humans and stay well away but sometimes we inadvertently teach them that humans can be an excellent source of food. When that happens the bear can hardly be blamed if he comes back for more again and again. Fifteen years ago we had open garbage cans in our campgrounds and that amounted to an open invitation to any Black Bears in the area. Even worse, campers sometimes deliberately fed bears and this made it even more certain that the bears would remember what marvellous creatures we are.
    Today, we are happy to say, very little of this happens any more, even in poor berry years when bears are particularly hard pressed in the search for food. The main reason is that the installation of bear-proof garbage buildings in the campgrounds and bear-proof garbage cans in picnic grounds and at trail entrances has largely removed the former invitation we used to extend to bears. No longer are we "dangling" all that good food in front of their noses and then being surprised and annoyed that they actually come in to eat it.
    Another major factor responsible for improving the situation is that increased awareness on the part of our campers about how they can help. Needless to say, bear-proof containers aren't of any use if people don't keep scrupulously clean campsites and put their garbage bags in the buildings after supper. It also goes without saying that feeding bears is anything but kind to them. Most campers nowadays know this and they deserve a large part of the credit for the tremendous improvement we have seen in the "bear situation" over the last ten or fifteen years.     One more thing which has helped change things for the better has been the trapping and removal of so-called nuisance bears (instead of killing them). This is much more glamorous than bear-proof garbage buildings and it may seem humane but, in fact, the technique is not very effective. For one thing, it is very time consuming and expensive, and, for another, it very often doesn't work. Transplanted bears are often back within a few days and, even if they do stay in the Park Interior, there is no shortage of canoeists back there who will not exactly appreciate the visit of a bear corrupted by humans elsewhere.
    If you are new to camping in Algonquin and all of this seems a little confusing, remember that Black Bears are not interested in you--only in your food--and, with
a little common sense, you can make sure that your visit will not lead to the destruction of any bears. Many campers reduce proper behaviour in bear country to three simple rules.

    It may be tempting but just stop and think what is going to happen to the bear--it might as well be your finger on the trigger.

    This is the only place your food is safe from bears which have been corrupted by you or your fellow campers. Leaving food in a cooler or a tent is an invitation to a smashed cooler or a ripped tent--precisely the sort of incident that leads to the destruction of the bear and considerable financial loss to you, not to mention the risk of personal injury.

    Bears depend far more on their sense of smell in finding food than they do on sight. It helps, therefore, to keep your campsite as odour-free and as uninviting as possible. Burn what garbage you can, seal the rest in plastic garbage bags, and put them in the bear-proof garbage buildings. Never leave food or dirty dishes on your table. Remember, you are a guest in the bear's home. It is YOU who must go out of your way to ensure that Algonquin bears continue to live untroubled by man, and that your trip is untroubled by bears.

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