All About Wildlife In The Okanagan BC

Bugs To Birds To Bears - Encounters & Interesting Attractions

The diversity of wildlife living in the Okanagan BC is incredible. And viewing wild animals in their natural habitat is a beautiful thing. Wild animals that you may encounter in the Okanagan Valley includes bears, deer, moose, wild cougar or puma cat, big horn sheep, wild (or feral) horses and rattlesnakes, to name a few.

a golden eagle being released from rehab in the okanaganWe were fortunate to be a part of this golden eagle release from rehabilitation in the Okanagan. What an amazing sight!

Naturally with desert, mountains, forest, wilderness and exploring comes risk to animals, humans and domestic pets. And though sightings nor encounters with cougars are all that common, bears are known to be seen in residential and wilderness areas.

And in particular, the western diamond back rattle snake is common - Yes, every summer there are at least a few rattle snake bites reported.

family visit to osoyoos desert center to learn about okanagan wildife and endangered speciesLearning About Okanagan Wildlife At Osoyoos Desert Center

If you're interested in unusual reptiles and amphibians, spiders and strange insects, painted turtles, owls, endangered species and the phenomenon of the sockeye salmon and it's life cycle there's plenty of places to visit and learn about it all.

Plus, more than 300 species of birds, including some 200 breeding species, are found around the Okanagan, and there are several bird sanctuaries where you'll be more likely to see the most types of birds.

Wildlife You May Encounter In The Okanagan

Know what to look for and what to do should you encounter wild animals in the area, whether you're out hiking, biking in back country trails, camping, or your just out exploring. Visit the pages below to learn more about wild animals you may see in the Okanagan Valley.

Birding is also popular in the Okanagan, with the presence of many North American bird species, programs and bird festivals. The South Okanagan and lower Similkameen valleys have long been known as one of the "must-visit" places for bird watching.

The Okanagan-Similkameen is home to a rare array of natural habitats that serve as a home for unique bird species, some of which are endangered. And the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO)rehab facility for injured and orphaned birds of prey (Raptors).

If you're here visiting during the month of May, you can take in the annual Meadowlark Festival in the South Okanagan, or the Salmon Arm Grebe Festival in the Shuswap.

Wildlife & Safety

Not all wild animals in the Okanagan are classed as 'dangerous', but all should be considered potentially dangerous, including deer that you may see within city limits.

a young deer in city limits crossing a streetDeer Just Pop Up Out Of Nowhere!!

We do share the back-country, and sometimes city and town limits, with many wild animals that can sometimes be dangerous; awareness will help protect you and your family and our wildlife too.

Any wild animal, even a white-tailed deer, can be dangerous. Wild animals are usually wary of human beings and "more inclined to flee or hide than to attack".

However, in places such as hiking trails, forest service areas, campgrounds, parks and some residential areas there are a lot of people in the same areas that animals roam. These animals get used to human presence and this can create safety trouble for humans, the animals themselves and also domesticated pets.

A Few General Safety Tips...

Never attempt to feed any wildlife, including ducks, birds, chipmunks or even squirrels!

  • If you encounter a wild animal, simply give them their space. Move slowly around or away from it and resist the impulse to get close to, reach out, or call out to them.
  • Take pictures, using a zoom lens - never try to move closer to an animal to get a better picture. If you plan to do a lot of wildlife viewing, bring a pair of good binoculars or a telescope.
  • Always keep campgrounds clean to avoid attracting dangerous animals to your campsite. Coolers are NOT bear proof!

Okanagan Wildlife Attractions

You can learn all about reptiles and amphibians, spiders and unusual insects, the Canadian moose, western diamondback rattlesnake, yellow bellied marmots, big horned sheep, burrowing owls, salmon species, endangered species and so much more at some of the wonderful and educational attractions in the Okanagan, which are super kid and family friendly!

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