Steeves: Many chances to teach youngsters about our natural environment

Phew! Another election over with, although there will be more coming up.

Families can once again take the opportunity to get outdoors together and let the young ones learn about the historic sport of fishing

Families can once again take the opportunity to get outdoors together and let the young ones learn about the historic sport of fishing

Phew! Another election over with, although there will be more coming up.

What was truly disappointing was that the environment had a very low profile in the campaign.

It was not a key issue, although I’m sure there were those who paid attention to party platforms and to any words that were said about environmental issues.

However, the newly-elected Conservatives had better move quickly to get rid of the gun registry.

Judging by the number of emails that crossed my screen reminding hunters and marksmen to vote Conservative in order to get rid of it, I’m sure they were a significant behind-the-scenes force in helping them get re-elected and gain the majority they needed to legislate it out of existence.

That’ll save us a good chunk of change too.

Change that could go to getting back to funding federal environment ministry staff here in the Okanagan once again, perhaps…

As well as voting, we have a responsibility as outdoors people, to foster an interest in the natural environment in young people, whether that’s helping them get involved in hunting or fishing, hiking or camping, bird watching or photography.

And that’s where the importance of the annual kids’ fishing ponds at Shannon Lake Regional Park and at the Hall Road pond in Mission Creek Regional Park come into play.

Volunteers and regional parks staff ensure youngsters wanting to learn about fishing have an opportunity to catch their first fish, while learning about fish habitat, riparian areas, birds and insects, water and wild areas.

Shannon Lake opened last weekend and will be staffed by volunteers from the Peachland Sportsmans Association and regional district staff, who will lend out a limited amount of gear and offer advice each weekend until June.

Saturday, May 7 the Hall Road pond opens with a barbecue celebration as well, with volunteers from the Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club and the Lonely Loons Flyfishers Society as well as district staff.

Each pond is being stocked by the Freshwater Fishing Society of B.C. with rainbow trout 25 to 30 centimetres in length for the under 16 to fish for, without requiring a licence.

This is not for adult anglers, although the larger part of Shannon Lake is still open to them with only the small bay that’s netted off, reserved for kids.The limit is one fish a day.

Families have enjoyed these opportunities for the past five years here in the Okanagan as part of Go Fish B.C.

The Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club also offers a free opportunity for people new to birding on Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. Meet at the EECO in Mission Creek Regional Park to travel to several birding spots. Bring your binoculars, a snack and a drink.

The club also invites everyone interested to attend the next meeting, Tuesday, May 10, 7 p.m., at the Evangel Church on Gordon Drive, o hear ecologists John and Mary Theberge on Stardust to Ecosystems: The Symphony of Life. It’s about their journey of discovery to many wild places in the world. They’ve travelled to the Arctic and the tropics studying wildlife and will illustrate their talk with slides.

For more information, go to the CONC website at: This is the time of year that local wildlife such as coyotes and deer are giving birth to young.

That means that in the coming weeks, coyote parents will be teaching their young how to scavenge for food, so it’s your opportunity to ensure that doesn’t include a lesson in successfully getting food from humans.

Be sure you frighten off any coyotes mooching around your neighbourhood and don’t leave any food out.

There’s a good population of coyotes in this area, built up partly in response to the high rabbit populations of the past few years.

Clean up attractants that could encourage bears as well, including garbage, dirty barbecue grills or pet food outside.

It’s too bad the city hasn’t taken up sponsorship of a Bear Aware program in Kelowna, yet there’s little hesitation in approval of more building permits encroaching on bear habitat around this region. That’s where conflicts between bears and humans occur, and the Bear Aware program is a great tool to help educate the public about dealing with such situations and prevent problems.

Be aggressive in frightening bears off in residential areas as well, so they realize your yard is not an easy banquet location.

And, finally, at this time of year, there are always some who take pity on a fawn they come upon in the wild. Do not touch wild fawns if you do spot it. The doe will be back, but she stashes her baby where it can remain quiet and still to avoid predation.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues.



Kelowna Capital News