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Unlikely to be grizzlies in Knox Mountain Park

Grizzly bear sightings are rare in the Okanagan Valley—even more so at this time of year, when their higher-elevation hibernation dens are still blocked by snow.

However, it’s not impossible that a Friday afternoon complaint to the RCMP about a grizzly bear being sighted in Knox Mountain Park was actually a grizzly, say conservation officers.

It just isn’t that likely, says Sgt. Josh Lockwood of the CO service.

“In the brown phase, a black bear can look a bit like a grizzly bear,” commented Lockwood, but he was unable to get adequate information because the person who complained didn’t leave a name and phone number so they could contact him to ask more questions.

Photos, even from a cell phone, are a real asset to identifying wildlife, he noted.

There was only the one sighting and even the park caretaker hasn’t seen either a grizzly or a bear.

Some years ago, there used to be lots of bear sign in the park, commented Mark Goddard, who lives on Knox Mountain.

On the other hand, Lockwood notes, it is a wild area so people should expect to see wildlife in the park, including does with fawns, and deer can be very protective of their young.

The complaint was that a grizzly bear was spotted by joggers heading up the Apex trail, about 100 metres from the top, on Friday afternoon.

However, Lockwood said they haven’t received any complaints in this area yet about bears, and the animals will only just be coming out of hibernation, from dens located at the lower elevations.

He is concerned they will head down into the valley where the grass is greening up, and if they are distracted by garbage or pet food, they may forget to head back up country once the snow melts.

So, he warns that it’s important no garbage be put out before the morning of your trash pickup day.

As well, pet food and bird feeders should be taken in so they don’t attract the bruins, and barbecue grates should be cleaned after each use.

Bears have very sensitive noses when it comes to food smells, and they have a good memory for places they last found food, even if that was a year ago.

“Once they get into garbage they’ll stay, so be sure to keep it inside,” warned Lockwood.

People found attracting bears can be charged and fined.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

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