It’s not unusual for visitors to many of our Central Okanagan Regional Parks to come across animals in their natural home.
And while photos at a safe distance are encouraged, confrontations are not.
With ripening fruit in valley orchards and Okanagan kokanee salmon spawning expected, more bears will be frequenting regional parks, especially those with corridor connections to the higher elevations.
Evidence that bears are around is already occurring along the Mission Creek Greenway, in Woodhaven Nature Conservancy, Scenic Canyon and Rose Valley regional parks.
Each year, evidence of their presence is also often found in other more natural regional parks like Mission Creek, Hardy Falls, Bertram Creek, Glen Canyon, Johns Family Nature Conservancy, Kalamoir and Mill Creek.
“This time of year, our field staff and visitors start seeing more signs that bears are around. As sightings increase, we post signs advising that the animals may be active in the area,” said RDCO communications officer Bruce Smith.
To reduce your chance of an encounter, Smith says to travel in a group if possible, make noise or carry something that makes noise.
“Make your presence known. During the fall fish spawning season in local creeks and rivers visitors may encounter bears bulking up on this food source.
“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, 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 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 wildlife encounter.
Smith adds that local residents also have a role to play in preventing animal confrontations 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 helps to reduce the potential temptation for bears or other wildlife,” Smith said.