Black bears are common this time of year. (IMAGE CREDIT: BLACK PRESS)

Kelowna park visitors urged to not go near bears

The Regional District of the Central Okanagan cautions against going near bears

The wild, untouched and natural settings of the Central Okanagan’s regional parks come with some risks for human visitors.

As summer draws to a close, Okanagan Kokanee salmon are starting to spawn and orchard and vineyard 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.

“As expected at this time of year, our parks staff and visitors usually see more signs of bears in some of our regional parks including Mission Creek, the Greenway, Scenic Canyon, Bertram Creek, Johns Family Nature Conservancy, Kalamoir, Glen Canyon and Rose Valley. As sightings increase, we post signs advising that the animals may be active in the area,” said Bruce Smith, communications officer.

“To reduce your chance of coming upon a bruin, travel in a group if possible and 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, you may find 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 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 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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