Two more cougar sightings in a section of Scenic Canyon Regional Park have forced a closure of a section of the park in East Kelowna.
“Since we posted warning signs earlier this week, we’ve received additional reports of people seeing cougars in the natural area of the park below the Gallagher’s Canyon neighbourhood,” said Regional District of Central Okanagan communications officer Bruce Smith.
“The latest occurred yesterday afternoon while a woman was walking her dog along a trail in this area of the park. To ensure visitor safety and to reduce the possibility of any confrontation with the animals, we’ve decided to immediately close the park between KLO Creek and Mission Creek, the McCulloch Road and Field Road parking lots and the Layer Cake Mountain Lookout that’s adjacent to Gallaghers Pinnacle Way.”
Signs have been posted advising this area of the park is closed. Visitors are reminded that anyone found inside a regional park that has been closed due to a potential hazard could be fined $500.
“The Mission Creek Greenway from the Hollywood Road entrance to Scenic Canyon Regional Park to the Layer Cake Mountain Lookout is still open and is not affected by the latest closure. The BC Conservation Officer Service continues to be updated by our staff whenever we receive reports of cougar sightings and activity in the park,” Smith said
The Ministry of Environment’s Safety Guide to Cougars advises that while human conflicts with these large cats are extremely rare and an attack is highly unlikely, it pays to be prepared especially when in a natural setting, like the Greenway through the Scenic Canyon Regional Park corridor.
The safety guide recommends people should travel in groups of two or more and that you make enough noise so that you don’t surprise a cougar. Carry a sturdy walking stick that can be used as a weapon if necessary and keep children and pets close at hand and under control.
Visitors to our regional parks must have their dog on a leash at all times and must stay on designated trails.
Finally, the guide says people should watch for cougar tracks and signs and remember that cougars are unpredictable. If you should encounter a cougar, stay calm, talk to it in a confident voice, pick up all children off the ground and never turn your back on the cougar. Instead, back away slowly, remaining upright and do all you can to make yourself look larger, and always give a cougar an avenue of escape.
If you observe a cougar or bear within Scenic Canyon Regional Park or other Regional Park please contact the regional parks services office at 250-469-6232 and the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.