September 28, 2013 - 4:33 PM
KELOWNA – First the regional district up warning signs about cougar sightings in Scenic Canyon Regional Park early last week. Then there were two more and the district closed the park out of concerns for people’s safety.
The latest sighting was Thursday afternoon by a woman walking her dog along a trail below the Gallagher’s Canyon neighbourhood.
“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,” regional district spokesperson Bruce Smith said. “The McCulloch Road and Field Road parking lots and the Layer Cake Mountain Lookout that’s adjacent to Gallaghers Pinnacle Way are closed as well.”
Signs have been posted advising this area of the park is closed. Anyone found inside could be fined $500.
“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 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 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.
Dogs must be on a leash at all times and people must stay on the designated trails.
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 Parks Services office at 250-469-6232 and the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.
To contact the reporter for this story, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-491-0331.
A map showing the areas of Scenic Canyon Regional Park closed due to cougar activity.
Image Credit: RDCO
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013