Steeves/Trail Mix: Game numbers healthy

Hunting season may be opened for bighorn sheep in the Okanagan Mountain Park area by 2014, as numbers are healthy.

There’s good news this week from biologist Brian Harris about wildlife counts the ministry has been conducting for the past month or so.

Numbers of all ungulates, including goats, are up in the Okanagan Mountain Park area, as browse has improved after the 2003 wildfire opened up the habitat there and returned it to grasslands.

In fact, he thinks an open season for bighorns may be opened to hunting in 2014, as numbers from the group transplanted a few years ago have grown into a self-sustaining population.

There are also continual sightings of wolves around the Okanagan, and Harris tells the story of a colleague from Washington who radio-collared a young female wolf in the Lake Chelan area last year.

In a matter of weeks, she had walked to Penticton, where she hung around for a week, then she went on another walk to the north end of Shuswap Lake, and ended up in Revelstoke where she was killed raiding a chicken coup in a farmer’s yard.

She covered astonishing distances in a short period of time. Brian says it’s even more surprising that it was a female, not a male wolf who made the long trek.

Wildlife will be changing their habits now that winter has finally arrived this week, and motorists can expect to see more deer near roadways as they try to forage away from the deep snow at higher elevations.

Be warned to keep your eyes peeled at likely locations for deer or you could find yourself upside down in your vehicle like one chap in a truck did up in the Joe Rich area Wednesday morning.

The deer had to be put down, but the driver survived.

Conservation officer Ed Seitz also warns dog owners to keep control of their pets so they don’t chase deer. It’s a particular concern as a combination of thawing, rain and re-freezing causes a crust to form on the snow that permits dogs to run on top, but deer break through.

It’s not only illegal, and you could face a fine, but the animal could be shot by authorities for running wildlife.



On a happier note, there’s a family activity planned in Mission Creek regional park this Saturday that sounds like fun: Explore the Snow, 1 to 3 p.m. It’s free, but pre-registration is required, by calling the EECO or the regional district.

Another family activity, the annual White Rabbit Snowshoe Festival and Race is planned at Crystal Mountain Resort on Sat., Jan. 26.

For details, google that or contact Selah Outdoor Explorations at 768-4961.

Families are also welcome at the annual Peachland Sportsmen’s Association game banquet, Sat., Feb. 9 at the Peachland Community Centre, with a banquet of wild game meats, a live band hosted by Stuntman Steve of 103.9 The Juice and The Westside Warriors from 5:30 to 11:45 p.m.

There’ll be door, raffle and auction prizes including several golf packages, a helicopter tour, guided fishing trip, tire package and many more. Tickets are available at Valley Glass in Westbank.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.