Wildlife to watch out for whilst hiking in the Okanagan
Spring in the Okanagan brings out more wildlife. Bears come out from hibernation, rattle snakes bask in the sun and birds become more adventurous. Though unlikely, it is possible to come face to face with several animals. Here are the top six to watch out for when hiking in Kelowna and surrounding areas:
The most likely bear that you would encounter near Kelowna is a Black Bear. Black bears can come in all shapes, colours and sizes. Though the bears feast mainly on berries, insects, fish and grasses, they can develop an appetite for human food. Because of this, it is important to not leave food scraps or trash on any hiking trails or campsites! If you encounter a bear, you should never try to run away. Instead raise your hands above your head, act big and talk to the bear whilst you begin to back away.
There are plenty of deer in and around Kelowna, so this would be the most likely animal that you would spot on a local hike. There are three types of deer that are prevalent in the Okanagan areas: Mule Deer, White-Tailed Deer and Black-Tailed Deer. Though Deer are not dangerous animals, it is still best to leave them alone (especially their young), give them space and keep dogs close.
Big Horn Sheep –
Keep your eyes peeled for Big Horn Sheep. These sheep are spread out in small flocks across the Okanagan regions. They are rarely spotted in well populated trails and urban areas, but they are great animals to see if you get a chance! The males have large, curled horns which distinguish them from other types of sheep – and these horns act as a sign of the ram’s status, as well as being used as weapons in battle.
Western Rattle Snake –
You won’t usually find a Western Rattle Snake on a well-established hiking trail, but never say never! You could encounter snakes under rocks or logs so be careful. Watch where you are treading or putting your hands – you don’t want to accidentally disturb a sleeping snake! In Canada, only found in the warmer climates of the Okanagan, and small parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Western Rattle Snake is venomous and carnivorous.
Cougars, or Mountain Lions, are the second most powerful predator in Canada (after bears). The Okanagan is prime territory for cougars due to its mountainous, rocky terrain. Because they are most active between dusk and dawn, it is unlikely that you will see a cougar on a day hike. However, if you do spot fresh tracks or warning signs that a cougar is in the area, it is best to turn back!
Always be on the watch for wildlife when out on a hike, and always travel in a group. If you are unsure what to take with you when hiking, please refer to our Okanagan Hiking Packing List. There are so many trails around Kelowna to enjoy – Do you think you will encounter any of these animals? Have you seen any interesting wildlife on your adventures?
Written by Hannah Poaros