Fruit, spawning salmon, regional parks & bears

Visitors of many Central Okanagan Regional Parks can encounter wildlife at any time.   But this time of year, our more natural Regional Parks require more bear awareness.

As Kokanee salmon spawn and fruit is ripening in orchards across the Central Okanagan, evidence of bear activity is increasing as their search for food brings them into the valley from the higher elevations.

Evidence that bears are around is already occurring along the Mission Creek Greenway, in Mission Creek, Scenic Canyon and Hardy Falls Regional Parks.  They’re also known to frequent other more natural regional parks like Woodhaven Nature Conservancy, Mill Creek, Bertram Creek, John’s Family Nature Conservancy, Kalamoir, Glen Canyon and Rose Valley.

Communications Officer Bruce Smith says, “Our parks staff and visitors start seeing more bears in some of our Regional Parks at this time of year.  As sightings increase, we post signs advising that the animals may be active in the area.”

“To reduce your chance of encountering a bear,” he says “you should travel in a group, make noise or carry something that makes noise.  During the fall fish spawning season, park visitors may encounter bears along local creeks and rivers, because the Kokanee are a plentiful food source.  Please be aware that 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 when in Regional Parks 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 have a role to play on their property by keeping any garbage securely stored and wheeling their garbage cart out only on the morning of their regular curbside collection.  That will help reduce the potential temptation for bears or other wildlife.

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