Dave Arama is one of Canada’s leading survival experts.
He knows the dangers lurking in the swampy sub-Antarctic boreal forest around Gillam, Manitoba, where teenage accused murderers Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are suspected of hiding out in the past week.
If the duo did enter the wilderness and did not find some type of shelter Mr Arama predicts they are dead or close to it.
It is not the black bears, polar bears or wolves Mr Arama places high on his top 10 list of dangers the teenagers would face.
It’s the insects.
There’s relentless blood-sucking deer flies, mosquitos, sand flies and other bugs.
‘They eat you alive,’ Mr Arama, owner of the Ontario-based WSC Survival School, told AAP on Tuesday.
‘They won’t stop biting until until your eyes close and you can’t see no more.
‘Or, if you get enough bites you can go anaphylaxis and then end up in a serious life-threatening reaction.’
Water might be plentiful in northern Canada during summer but instead of keeping the teenagers alive it also could be highly-hazardous.
‘If they drink any water it is likely filled with parasites, giardia and they’d get sick as hell from that,’ he said.
McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, 18, are suspected of embarking on a killing spree two weeks ago in Canada’s western province of British Columbia by shooting dead Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, 24, on a remote highway.
Four days later on another BC highway the Royal Canadian Mounted Police allege the teenagers murdered botanist Leonard Dyck.
McLeod and Schmegelsky then drove in a stolen Toyota RAV4 3000km east across Canada’s north until they dumped the car and set it on fire on a gravel road at the edge of Hudson Bay, near Gillam.
Ty Blake, a volunteer firefighter who was called to put the fire out, presumes the Toyota ran out of fuel.
After the firefighters put the fire out they inspected the vehicle.
It appears the fugitives were so keen to flee they left behind camping equipment and canned sardines or oysters that would help them survive in the bush.
‘There were a few pots and pans in there, a few canned foods, a crowbar,’ Mr Blake told AAP.
Mr Blake, his fellow firefighters and police at the scene did not realise it was the teens’ getaway car.
Chills went down their spines the next day when the RCMP announced it was the duo’s vehicle.
‘When you sit and think about it, they may not have gone far and been sitting nearby in the bush,’ Mr Blake said.
After what appears to be a false sighting of the teens on Sunday at a rubbish dump at York Landing, about 90km west from Gillam, the RCMP and Royal Canadian Air Force’s CC-130H Hercules and a CP-140 Aurora patrol planes, equipped with infrared cameras and imaging radar, concentrated their efforts near the site of the dumped Toyota on Tuesday.
Mr Blake agrees with Mr Arama for McLeod and Schmegelsky to survive more than a few days in the wilderness they would have had to have found a hunting cabin or another type of building.
In winter the temperatures drop to below minus 20C with the windchill pushing it down to the minus 50s, but even the current summer months the temperatures have dropped below 10C and there have been rainstorms.
McCleod and Schmegelsky are thin, standing 193cm tall and weighing just 77kg, making it less likely they could survive a week outside without food and appropriate clothing.
Mr Arama said they would need to be wearing waterproofed wool and microfleece gear.
The camouflage attire Schmegelsky is seen wearing in video surveillance footage was inadequate and the t-shirt McLeod was in a certain death sentence.
Mr Arama said he has had groups in the wilderness for nine or 10 days who on average lost 9kg to 23kg ‘just to try to stay warm’.
‘I’ll be honest. With 40 years of experience, if you threw me out there with no knife, no tin can, no flint to start a fire, no tarp, no nothing, I’d rather die,’ Mr Arama said.
‘This is no Crocodile Dundee movie.
‘This is real.’