Bears foraging for food in Central Okanagan parks

Regional district wants public to be aware early return of spawning Kokanee salmon likely to generate more bear sightings in local parks.

  • Aug. 17, 2016 7:00 p.m.

Bear resting on a hillside in Peachland.

With Kokanee salmon expected to return soon to Mission Creek, there will likely be more bear activity in and around Mission Creek Regional Park and the spawning channel.

Signs and information has been posted in the park advising visitors to be ‘Bear Aware’ as there’s been evidence that some bruins have already been loading up on berries in parts of Mission Creek Regional Park and along the Mission Creek Greenway in Scenic Canyon Regional Park.

“With ripening fruit in valley orchards and the annual salmon spawning, it’s not unusual for visitors to many of our Central Okanagan Regional Parks to come across animals in their natural home especially those parks with corridor connections to the higher elevations,” said Bruce Smith, communications officer for the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

Each year, evidence of their presence is also often found in other more natural regional parks like Rose Valley, Hardy Falls, Bertram Creek, Glen Canyon, Johns Family Nature Conservancy, Kalamoir and Mill Creek.

“People should respect all bears and anticipate and avoid encounters with them.  Bears can be aggressive, especially when defending their food or their cubs,” explained Smith.

“They also have excellent senses of smell and hearing.  Dog owners are reminded unless otherwise designated their pets must be leashed and kept on trails at all times.  It’s not only the law, but will help avoid any potentially serious encounter with wildlife.”

Where possible, visitors should travel in a group, make noise or carry something that makes noise in order to make your presence known.

During the fall fish spawning season in local creeks and rivers visitors may encounter bears bulking up on this food source.  Bears fishing for food may not hear you over the noise of the creek water.  If you see a bear, give it plenty of space and stay well away from it.

Residents also have a role to play in preventing animal confrontations on their property by keeping any garbage securely stored and only wheeling their garbage cart out on the morning of their regular curbside collection.  That helps to reduce the potential temptation for bears or other wildlife.

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