Bears are one of the many dangerous animals to call British Columbia home, but as the summer season starts to turn and the bears begin to prepare for winter hibernation, sightings in the Okanagan increase.
Spawning kokanee salmon, ripening fruit and vineyards are a few seasonal attractants that bring bears down into the valley. That’s also why you can expect to see more bears traversing through Central Okanagan Regional Parks, especially those connected to higher elevations.
“This is the time of year that bears make their presence known and our field staff and visitors start seeing more signs that bears are around,” said Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) communications officer Bruce Smith.
As sightings and evidence of the presence of bears increase, the RDCO posts signs in several of its parks advising that bears may be active in the area.
“If possible, travel in a group and make some noise so any bears are aware of your presence,” advised Smith.
”As the fall Kokanee salmon spawning season ramps up visitors may encounter bears bulking up on this food source in local creeks and streams.”
He said those bears may not hear passersby over the noise of the creek water, adding that “If you see a bear, give it plenty of space and stay well away from it.”
The City of Kelowna is also advising parkgoers to stay bear aware. While there have been no reports of bear sightings at this time, bear scat has been found in the area recently.
The RDCO encourages people to avoid encounters with bears whenever possible as they can be aggressive, especially when defending their food or cubs. Bears also have excellent senses of smell and hearing and better sight than you may believe. Unless otherwise designated, dog owners are reminded their pets must be leashed and kept on trails at all times in order to avoid any potential serious wildlife encounter.
Residents also have a role to play by securely storing any garbage and only placing their garbage cart out on the morning of their regular curbside collection. That helps to reduce the potential temptation for bears or other wildlife.
All regional parks remain open for visitors using safe distancing practices. Visit rdco.com/pickapark for more information.