The sun breaks over the Purcell Mountains, making Kootenay Lake sparkle like a million diamonds. In the silent mist, a bull elk scans for predators, preparing to take his herd to drink. An osprey windsurfs overhead.
The north end of Kootenay Lake, from Kaslo to Duncan Lake, has a wide range of habitats. These include the vast mountain forests, valley bottom and intermittent forest wetlands, alpine meadows, riparian (river and lakeside) areas, even grasslands.
Deer, elk and coyotes are a common sight in all seasons, and at most elevations. In the spring, summer and fall, grizzly and black bears roam the forests (and make occasional forays to town.) Throughout the year, songbirds are plentiful in the Duncan and Lardeau Flats. Watching a grizzly snag lunch from the river is a treat that will make your outing memorable. Around Meadow Creek there are moose, bears, fish, waterfowl, and increasingly, wolves. Between Kaslo to New Denver, there are beaver ponds along the road. At Fish Lake and Bear Lake there are waterfowl, and other bird species (and tadpoles in early summer, don’t forget – they’re wildlife too!). The rest stop there is a perfect place to sit quietly and observe the natural beauty.
Wild animals are on no schedule. There are no guarantees that you will see wildlife, but chances are that if you choose the right time (dawn and dusk are peak activity), blend in, stay quiet and have patience, you will be rewarded.
- Respect animals and other viewers. Being too close or disturbing animals can be very stressful and dangerous.
- Habitat can suffer from human disregard, and in turn, wildlife will as well. Please stay on trails and pack out what you brought in. Keep pets leashed and under control.
- Stay a safe distance from all wildlife. Use binoculars, scopes, or telephoto camera lenses to get a better view.
- Animals with young are highly susceptible to stress, and can be very aggressive in protecting their babies. If stressed, the parents may abandon their young. If you do find what you think are “abandoned” animals, leave them alone and step back. The parents are probably very close by. By retreating, you are not only helping save the wildlife, but yourself as well. Defensive mothers can pose a very great threat to humans.
Safety For You, Safety For Our Wildlife
During all seasons, wildlife such as deer, elk, moose and bear come down to the valley bottoms. They tend to walk on or across the roads, causing much damage to vehicles and death or injury to the animals. Please watch for animals on the road, particularly at, but not limited to, dawn and dusk.Always reduce your speed in areas where the wildlife caution signs are posted. These signs are placed in areas where there has been a high incidence of sightings and, unfortunately, collisions. Slowing down is especially important at dawn and at dusk or during the night (make sure that your headlights are clean and aligned), or while travelling on a road that follows a water source. Just reducing your speed by 20 km will give you an extra 30 metres for braking. Slowing down and braking is almost always a safer approach than swerving.To warn other motorists of wildlife on or near the road and reduce the potential for collision, drivers can briefly flash their headlights. This is a common practice for warning of road hazards in this area. Thank you for taking care to help protect our wildlife.
At all times, remember you are in bear country here. Grizzly and black bears are very much at home in Kaslo and area. Please be familiar with bear safety techniques to ensure that no harm comes to either bears or humans in our mutual habitat. For more information on how to best protect yourself and the bears, check out the Bear Aware website at www.bearaware.bc.ca