Five things to know about the dangers of Manitoba’s northern wilderness

B.C. murder suspects Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are still on the run

RCMP search an area near Gillam, Man. in this photo posted to their Twitter page on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Twitter, Manitoba RCMP

The RCMP have been searching a remote area in northern Manitoba for more than a week trying to find murder suspects Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod.

A burned-out vehicle the fugitives were driving was found near the town of Gillam, Man., 1,000 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

READ MORE: Military pulls back, RCMP ‘scales down’ manhunt for B.C. murder suspects

Authorities have called the landscape unforgiving, and officials in the area say it’s a treacherous place this time of year, even for seasoned hunters and trappers. Here are some of the dangers:

TERRAIN

John McDonald, Gillam’s deputy mayor, says the area in the summer is covered in muskeg — bog consisting of water and partially dead vegetation often covered by moss.

“You can be walking along on it and all of a sudden break through to the water,” he says.

There are trapping trails, he adds, but those usually run a little more than a kilometre before reaching wet areas.

Daryll Hedman, a big game biologist with the provincial government, says the area has a lot of creeks and rivers the suspects would have to swim across.

Utility line workers often wait until winter to walk go into the area, he says. “Because you’ve got good, frozen ground underneath you.”

BUGS AND WILDLIFE

Blood-sucking insects are a big problem in the region, and there are a lot of them in the summer, Hedman says.

“The bugs up there, they are unreal,” he says of the mosquitoes, sandflies and horseflies.

McDonald says black bears and wolves are in the area, but they mostly leave people alone. Polar bears, which have been known to stalk people, have also been spotted outside Gillam.

WEATHER

Temperatures were as high as 30 C when the search for the suspects began in Manitoba a week ago, McDonald says. But overnight lows have dipped down to single digits.

“If you are wet, it’s quite easy to get hypothermia when it’s plus eight degrees outside,” he says. “But we don’t know what kind of supplies they have.”

FOOD

Besides hunting, there’s not much food to be found.

“We don’t have much for berries out yet,” Hedman says. “They would need to do some scavenging or catching the odd rabbit.”

There are caribou in the area, but McDonald says “that’s not something that you are just going to wander into the wilderness and feed yourself with whenever you get hungry.”

RELATED:

TRANSPORTATION

There is only one road into Gillam and one road into nearby Fox Lake Cree Nation. To the southeast, the community of York Landing is only accessible by plane or boat.

“Any other areas around there, they have winter roads, but they aren’t frozen,” Hedman says. “You still have swamps, rivers and lakes to cross.”

The Nelson River to the west can’t be crossed because its current is too swift, he adds. To the east, there is more muskeg, then Hudson Bay.

Trains go south to Winnipeg and north to Churchill, where the rail line ends.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Festival goers at the 27th annual Roots and Blues Festival

The Observer asked: Where are you from and what brought you to the festival?

Mistake-riddled offence leads to first loss for Okanagan Sun

The Sun lost to the Westshore Rebels 16-13

Fire departments extinguish suspicious wildfire near West Kelowna

Crews established a fire guard and knocked down the blaze before it grew to one hectare.

15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okangan Lake

The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning.

UPDATE: Man in custody after alleged impaired hit-and-run in downtown Kelowna

The victim remains in serious yet stable condition after being struck Saturday night

Kelowna Share Society celebrates International Thrift Shop Day with BBQ

Event helps society say thank-you for community support

Summerland’s downtown has gone through numerous changes

Main Street has been commercial hub of community for many years

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Okanagan climate advocacy group protests against Tolko

Group to demonstrate outside Vernon head office Monday over plan to log close to water supply

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Okanagan Cultural Connections live venue tour kicks off in Vernon

Two dozen promoters, national booking agents, and music reps to visit venues from Vernon to Oliver

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Most Read