Although this group of California bighorn sheep who have taken up residence on Westside Road are still healthy

Steeves: Enough of winter—surely spring is just around the corner

It’s been a bit of a shock to the system, but I think the warmer weather coming up in the next week or so should help a bit.

It’s been a bit of a shock to the system, but I think the warmer weather coming up in the next week or so should help a bit.

I found our hummingbirds, red-winged blackbirds and other migrants, way south of here, when I embarked on a short migration of my own during February.

I think I understand now why they take that long trip southward every fall and don’t return until the longer days and warmer weather of spring encourage the buds to swell and the bugs to hatch.

As I lazed around the pool and hiked the hills, I watched my winged buddies of summer flit from flower to flower, and realized not only would I not be lounging poolside in the -17 C temperatures here in the valley, but there wouldn’t be any flowers for them to enjoy adjacent to me either.

It’s all become much clearer—this migration thing, I mean.

But, I’m back now and spring is actually just around the corner, along with the mud and debris revealed by melting snow that usually comes with it.

Hikers and bikers: Take the appearance of mud as a warning that if you venture into it during snowmelt and as the frost leaves the ground, you’ll not only get dirty, you’ll also be damaging fragile baby grasses and plants just as they try and sprout from the cold ground.

Stay on pavement, stony ground or pathways so you don’t cause irreparable damage to emerging vegetation.

Apparently, that’s a problem right now in Knox Mountain Park, where some bikers are tearing up young vegetation in the natural areas instead of using the trails.

Stay on the trails if you want to continue to have trails to enjoy.

Trails are not the only natural thing taking a beating.

Wild bighorn sheep are under attack again, this time by a disease called psoroptes ovis, with the first recorded case in Canada found in the Olalla area near Keremeos, where an animal had to be put down because it was in such poor health.

Government wildlife biologist Brian Harris asks those who are in the field to watch for California bighorns that might be infected.

The earliest symptoms are funny-looking ears, which are stiff and crusty, and that progresses to hair loss as the disease worsens.

He would particularly like to hear about any animals you see which may have the disease in its earlier stages, so watch for that first evidence and report the location to him at brian.s.harris@gov.bc.ca

Also known as mange, the disease can result in death, after intense pain and irritation caused by mites.

Because it’s easily controlled in domestic sheep and cattle, the concern is with wild animals.

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A spring session of the Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education course, which is a pre-requisite for anyone interested in purchasing a hunting licence in B.C., will be offered by members of the Peachland Sportsman’s Association April 1, 2 and 3 at Maple Springs Bible Camp in Peachland.

To register, go to: www.maplesprings.ca/uploads/CORE%20Registration%Form.pdf

For more information, call Clive at 250-767-1959.

Incidentally, this year the reservation service called Discover Camping, for provincial parks in B.C., opens earlier this year, March 15.

To reserve a site, go to www.DiscoverCamping.ca.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com