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Beware of Kelowna bears bulking up on berries and salmon

Signs have gone up at Mission Creek Regional Park warning visitors that bears have been spotted in the area recently.
Image Credit: RDCO
August 16, 2016 - 3:30 PM

KELOWNA – As berries ripen and salmon prepare to run in Mission Creek, the Regional District is notifying the public to be mindful of the increased likelihood of bear encounters.

Bruce Smith of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan says there has been increased evidence that bears have been loading up on berries in parts of Mission Creek Park and along the Greenway lately.

“With ripening fruit in valley orchards and the annual salmon spawning, it’s not unusual for visitors to many of our Central Okanagan Regional Parks to come across animals in their natural home especially those parks with corridor connections to the higher elevations,” he says in a media release. “And with Kokanee salmon expected to return soon to Mission Creek, there will likely be more bear activity in and around Mission Creek Regional Park and the spawning channel.”

Signs have been set up in areas with enhanced likelihood of encounters and Smith recommends avoiding visitors to all natural areas do their best to avoid interacting with them as much as possible.

“Bears can be aggressive, especially when defending their food or their cubs,” he says. “They also have excellent senses of smell and hearing. Dog owners are reminded unless otherwise designated 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 encounter with wildlife.”

He recommends travelling in a group when possible and making their presence known.

“During the fall fish spawning season in local creeks and rivers visitors may encounter bears bulking up on this food source,” Smith says. “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.”

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