Part of the attractiveness of our Central Okanagan Regional Parks is that visitors experience wild, untouched, natural settings. That also means they may encounter wildlife at any time. And as summer draws to a close, visiting our more natural Regional Parks requires more bear awareness.
Across the Okanagan Kokanee salmon are starting to spawn and orchard crops are ripening. With that there’s increasing evidence of bear activity as they leave the higher elevations in search of food in the valley.
Evidence that bears are around is already occurring along the Mission Creek Greenway, in Mission Creek, Scenic Canyon and Hardy Falls Regional Parks. Each year, evidence of their presence is also often found in other more natural regional parks like Bertram Creek, Glen Canyon, Johns Family Nature Conservancy, Kalamoir, Mill Creek, Rose Valley and Woodhaven Nature Conservancy.
“Usually around this time of year, our parks staff and visitors start seeing more signs of bears in some of our Regional Parks. As sightings increase, we post signs advising that the animals may be active in the area” says Communications Officer Bruce Smith.
He says “to reduce your chance of an encounter, if possible travel in a group, make noise or carry something that makes noise. During the fall fish spawning season local creeks and rivers can be teaming with spawning salmon. As a result, visitors may encounter bears taking advantage of this plentiful 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.”
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. They also have excellent senses of smell and hearing, and better sight than you might believe. Dog owners are reminded when in Regional Parks that 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 wildlife encounter.
Residents also have a role to play in preventing animal confrontations on their property by keeping any garbage securely stored and wheeling their garbage cart out only on the morning of their regular curbside collection. That helps to reduce the potential temptation for bears or other wildlife.