Bear watch underway in Central Okanagan parks as sightings increase: Regional district

The RDCO says with fruit ripening and spawning salmon returning, more bear sightings are being reported throughout the region. Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

The Regional District of Central Okanagan says with fall nearing and fruit ripening in local orchards and vineyards, reports of bear sightings are increasing.

“This is the time of year that our field staff and visitors to Central Okanagan regional parks start seeing more signs that bears are around,” said RDCO communications officer Bruce Smith.

“As sightings and evidence of their presence rise, we post signs in affected parks identifying that bears may be active in the area.”

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In addition to ripening fruit, the RDCO noted that spawning Kokanee salmon are also returning to local streams.

If you plan on visiting one of the RDCO’s 30 local parks, the regional district suggests people should travel in a group and make some noise to possibly alert bears of your presence.

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Further, people are asked to keep children and pets out of spawning streams. Dog owners are also reminded to keep their pets leashed and on trails at all times.

“As the fall Kokanee salmon spawning season ramps up, visitors may encounter bears bulking up on this food source in local creeks and streams,” said Smith.

“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.”

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The RDCO noted it’s important to raise bear awareness at this time of year, as bears can be aggressive, especially when defending their food or cubs.

“Bears also have excellent senses of smell and hearing and better sight than you might believe,” said the RDCO.

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Regarding kokanee spawning season, the RDCO says each weekend until Oct. 10, park interpreters will be on-site at Mission Creek and Hardy Falls regional parks to answer questions about the life cycle of Kokanee salmon.

The park interpreters will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more a map on bear sightings in B.C., visit the Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP).

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