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Mountain snow pushing bobcats into Okanagan valley

Lori Anderson and her daughter Jenna Pickett watched this bobcat go across their deck and through the backyard at their home in Middleton Mountain.
Image Credit: Jenna Pickett
February 03, 2016 - 11:51 AM

OKANAGAN - Weather is a likely factor behind a rising number of bobcat sightings this winter across the Okanagan, says a member of the conservation officer service.

Over the past few weeks, residents in Vernon spotted bobcats in areas like Middleton Mountain and Swan Lake. Conservation officer Terry Myroniuk says a number of reports have also come from Kelowna and Penticton, with the bobcats not just being seen in rural areas, but in city centres as well.

“When heavier snow falls in the high country it pushes them into the valley bottoms where they’re better able to get around,” Myroniuk says. “We see this on years where we have a good snowpack.”

He suspects bobcats are also on a higher point in their population cycle. Fortunately, bobcats pose very little risk to public safety, Myroniuk says. The biggest threat they pose is to small pets and livestock, particularly chickens.

“They’re intelligent animals and when they find an easy meal they have a tendency to come back and develop a pattern,” Myroniuk says.

His advice is to keep house cats and small dogs indoors, particularly at night, and to supervise them while outside. The warning applies to all residents in the Okanagan, not just those in rural areas where wildlife encounters are more expected.

“I think that’s where we become complacent is when we’re in the city. Most of our communities, even though they’re residential, they do have wildlife corridors, creeks and natural greenbelts and greenways that are natural habitats that wildlife does continually pass through…. We have predators that are actively around, right in town.”

Most bobcats spotted in city centres this winter appear to have moved through the area quickly, likely travelling on some type of natural corridor. Conservation does relocate bobcats on occasion, and euthanasia is used as a last resort in cases where the animal is showing a pattern of preying upon livestock. So far this year, Myroniuk isn’t aware of any bobcats being put down by conservation in the Okanagan.

This animal, believed to be a bobcat or a lynx, was spotted near the waterslides at the north end of Vernon.
This animal, believed to be a bobcat or a lynx, was spotted near the waterslides at the north end of Vernon.
Image Credit: Jarrett Cox

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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