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

Clearview and staff are providing $1,525 towards ensuring families have enough to eat over the holidays

“Food Bank usage in Stettler and other areas continues to increase.”

‘You can take the kid from the farm, but you can’t take the farm from the kid!’

Former area resident Maxine Berry reflects on growing up years in Endiang region

Red Deer-Lacombe MP, other Conservative MPs meet with AB justice minister

Calkins said the justice system is a revolving door for criminals targeting rural areas

Businesses and organizations team up for Miracle on 50th

Shop local, celebrate local on Dec. 14th

The Association of Communities Against Abuse continues to build awareness and offer support

A new support and empowerment group has also been started in Stettler

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Alberta to change drug coverage for 26,000 patients, expects to save up to $380M

Patients being treated with biologics on government-sponsored drug plans must switch to biosimilars

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

Pet medical neglect cases on the rise in economically ailing Calgary

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 7.2 per cent in November compared with 4.4 per cent five years ago

Alberta premier opens war room to promote ‘truth’ about energy industry

Effort includes a $2.5-million public inquiry into foreign funding of anti-oil advocacy groups

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read