In the great north woods (part 3)

Day 4
We see a dead bison on the side of the road today. Blood had dribbled out of its mouth onto the pavement. It must have been recently hit because no scavengers had gotten to it yet. Its buttocks were incredibly sleek, almost like a horse�s.
We�ve encountered bison herds along the highway. When we see them ahead of us, meandering down the middle of the road, we group up and bike past slowly with the hope that the size of our pack will prevent them from charging. Bison and other large wildlife, which prefer to graze in the wide meridians of grass the road crews mow on either side of the highway, prove a significant threat to cars along these northern routes. Despite the British Columbian government�s efforts to deter the bison from grazing around the highway, the wildlife prefer this readily available hayfield to wandering the boreal forest in search of food.
While the thought of being chased on a bike by a heard of stampeding bison is unappealing, my far largest fear - aside from the RVs and logging trucks that trundle by at speeds nearing 100 kilometers per hour � is bears.
On each of our bikes is lashed a bear can � a thick plastic cylindrical container which we use to carry and store our food. Every evening, we make an effort to prepare our dinner a good hundred feet away from where we pitch our tents, and we comb through our panniers before nightfall to ensure that any toothpaste or sunscreen or energy bar wrappers have been stored in the bear cans. The first night I forget to put my contact solution away before getting in my sleeping bag and I spend the rest of the night worried that a bear will pick up the scent and come tearing through the thin nylon walls of my tent.
>In case a bear were to encounter our camp in the middle of the night, we sleep with cans of bear spray next to our makeshift pillows. Cedar, who is a professional wildlife biologist, reminds us to always stay within eyesight of the group. Bears rarely attack packs of five or more people, she says, reminding us that when we need to go into the bushes for bodily functions, we should always carry a can of bear spray. She and her friend Mark have fashioned belts with nylon webbing to which they clip their bear spray canisters. The first time we see a black bear in the bushes off the side of the road, I position myself right beside Cedar�s bike figuring if the bear attacks, she�d be the best prepared to defend us.
Photo: Bison (Alex Applegate)

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