The presence of bears has forced the Regional District of Central Okanagan to take the step of closing trail access in one regional park. Effective immediately, the main trail at Hardy Falls Regional Park is closed to the public upstream of bridge #1.
Communications Coordinator Bruce Smith says, “Even though bears are often sighted at this time of year in several of our regional parks, several bears and cubs have taken up residence in Hardy Falls Regional Park, located at the south end of Peachland. In recent days, there have been more frequent daytime sightings. As a result, in order to keep people safe, we’ve decided to close the formal trail access to the park. However, all previously scheduled public and school Kokanee Interpretive tours and weekend interpretive programming will continue along the creek, adjacent to the washroom area of the park, between Renfrew Road and Highway 97.”
Smith adds, “Kokanee are spawning in Peachland Creek which flows through Hardy Falls Regional Park and these bears are taking advantage of the food source. Because the main creekside trail meanders along the valley bottom, there are no alternate routes available for people to avoid possible contact with the bears. So to ensure there are no conflicts, we’ve decided to close the main trail in the park.”
Signs advising of the closure are in place. Anyone found inside a closed regional park could face a $500 fine. The regional district will consult with the BC Conservation Officer Service before reopening the main trail.
Evidence of bears is not unusual at this time of year in several regional parks, especially those that provide wildlife corridors to higher elevation areas and those with creeks filled with spawning kokanee salmon that provide a food source. When bears or evidence of them is found in a regional park, signs are posted advising park users to use caution.
“To reduce your chance of meeting a bear while hiking, it’s recommended that you travel in a group, make noise or carry something that makes noise.” Smith says, “Be aware that 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.”
People should respect all bears and anticipate and avoid encounters with them whenever possible. Bears can be aggressive, especially when defending their food or their cubs. Bears also have excellent senses of smell and hearing, and better sight than you might believe. For their safety, dog owners are reminded when in regional parks that their pets must be leashed and kept on trails at all times. Please report any bear sightings in a regional park to Parks Services at 250-469-6232.