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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

Jenn and Josh McLafferty, Owners of Monashee Spirits, which distills a variety of vodka, gin, brandy, whiskey and liqueurs. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
UPDATE: Three more Revelstoke businesses close due to COVID-19 exposure

Ray’s Butcher shop, Monashee Distillery and La Baguette each had a staff member test positive

The angel tree is now up at CIBC. Pick up a tag and buy a gift for a child this holiday season. (Photo via Facebook/Amanda Cole)
Give a gift to someone in need in Revelstoke

CIBC and Community Connections angel tree is now up

Letter to the editor.
LETTER: New signs not a good use of RMI money

There are other more pressing things we need in Revelstoke

BC Transit is replacing older diesel buses in Revelstoke and the Shuswap with new light-duty gasoline buses. (Submitted/BC Transit)
BC Transit replacing buses in Revelstoke and Shuswap

The new light-duty buses will run on gasoline, replacing older diesel buses

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Garage in Kelowna burns to the ground, blaze deemed suspicious

Fire crews responded to the scene just after 4:30 p.m.

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

(Ty Hainsworth / Facebook)
No injuries after fire rips through South Okanagan fruit stand

A fruit stand caught fire Tuesday afternoon, closing Highway 97 for two hours

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

A major reconstruction project on 32nd Avenue is nearing completion and the road is now re-opened to traffic between 33rd Street and 35th Street. (City of Vernon photo)
ROAD REPORT: More roundabouts coming to North Okanagan

New intersection lights up Dec. 13, 30th Street paving delayed, PV Road completed in Vernon

In this handout photo provided by the Philippine Red Cross, families stay at a temporary evacuation center at Catanduanes province, eastern Philippines, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, as Typhoon Goni hits the country. Families living near coastal towns have moved to evacuation centers as the strong typhoon makes landfall. (Philippine Red Cross via AP)
Okanagan community group organizes fundraiser for typhoon-hit Philippines

Over two million people have been affected by flooding, with about 500,000 forced to leave homes

Most Read