People, dogs walking in sensitive salmon spawning grounds in Central Okanagan | Kelowna News | iNFOnews

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People, dogs walking in sensitive salmon spawning grounds in Central Okanagan

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September 23, 2020 - 7:30 PM

It only takes one dog paw to destroy between 400 to 10,000 kokanee salmon eggs.

That's the number that Isabella Hodson, supervisor of community relations and visitor services with the Regional District of Central Okanagan's parks department, gave after receiving a complaint that pets and people have been walking through sensitive kokanee spawning grounds in Mission Creek.

It's an ongoing problem during spawning season and happens year after year, Hodson said.

People in Peachland have also been taking to social media to report people entering sensitive spawning areas at Hardy Falls.

READ MORE: The best spots to see spawning salmon in the Interior

“It’s always so disappointing to hear it... This is (the kokanee salmon's) one time to shine and it’s just such a short window, so it’s really a selfish act for people to be putting their dogs and kids into the creek now,” Hodson said. 

The fish return to lay their eggs after four years.

“This is not the right time to catch them or touch them,” she said, adding a single dog's paw can destroy a nest of 400 to 1,000 eggs.

“So if you’re taking 10 steps into the water, you might be killing the chance of 10,000 fish to survive,” Hodson said.

It's been difficult for park's staff to monitor, but they have been putting up more signs at popular locations where people come to watch the salmon, she said. Even people's shadows can startle the fish, making them use energy that could be otherwise used for spawning.

If people are caught going in the creek during this time, it can also result in a $500 fine. Spawning season typically wraps up during the first week of October.

The number of returning salmon has been high this year, with Hodson reporting 20,000 fish have been counted in Mission Creek and roughly 3,000 at Hardy Falls, which has the best numbers the district has seen in the past 20 years.

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