Now that fall has officially arrived, there are signs of it all around, except in the weather.
Bears have arrived at the banquet table in town to fatten up for hibernation; squirrels are racing madly around storing nuts; ski clubs are holding their annual meetings and biologists are counting sheep—bighorns, that is.
Oh, and hunters are waiting for summer to end so they can finish fishing and begin the fall hunt.
As anyone who travels Westside Road on a regular basis knows, the California bighorn sheep who were transplanted there from the Kamloops area in 2004 to augment the dwindling Shorts Creek canyon herd have split, with one faction migrating south.
That herd has now become a regular attraction, as well as a danger, along that narrow, winding stretch of road, between Bear Creek and Fintry.
Guarded by a large ram, a group of about a dozen lounged on the steep slopes last week as we passed by, and provincial wildlife biologist Aaron Reid says they estimate there are 25 to 35 in that group now.
Preventing collisions with vehicles on the twisty road is a major concern, but the herd is certainly providing an exciting wildlife viewing experience for people.
Just do be careful driving out that road.
In 2009, another transplant was completed from the same area of Kamloops, to Okanagan Mountain Park to augment a transplant done two years earlier from Keremeos, because of improved ungulate habitat in the park following the 2003 wildfire.
Aaron has just completed a report on that herd, with funds from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and it’s good news.
This spring, he says they spotted 74, so they estimate the population is about 115, with positive numbers of overwintering lambs.
He estimates by 2014, at this rate of growth, that population will double, but he says they don’t know what the habitat carrying capacity is in the park.
That transplant project is currently on the threshold between moderate and successful and it is anticipated that current growth rates will put it into the successful category by 2014.
Another sign of fall is ski clubs getting together to prepare for the winter season, and the first is the Nordic Cross Country Ski Club’s agm Wed., Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at the EECO in Mission Creek Regional Park.
A couple of new members will be needed this year on the board of directors, so if you can spare a few hours a month, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Download membership and volunteer forms from the website: kelownanordic.com
There’ll also be a wood cutting and stacking day Sun., Oct. 28.
That’s the day the Telemark Cross Country Ski Club is holding its agm and ski swap at the chalet.
Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.