Continued bear sightings near Cottonwood Lake south of Nelson have prompted the extended closure of a portion of the Nelson-Salmo Great Northern Trail until June 29.
This annual closure includes the trail south of Cottonwood Lake parking area to Hall Siding. The original closure was posted as May 1 to June 15 but according to regional parks operations supervisor Cary Gaynor, continued bear sightings and one person’s Facebook post alerting people about his run-in with a grizzly bear, prompted the two week extension. Besides informing the individual that the area is closed, Gaynor said they decided to give the bears a couple more weeks.
“Usually the bears have cleared out of there by mid-June but a number of sightings led us to give them more time,” said Gaynor He said updated signs will be posted accordingly at the entrance to trail closures.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay initiated the spring closure in consultation with BC Conservation Officer Service, regional bear biologists and the Ministry of Forest Land and Natural Resource Operations.
A written statement from the regional district said collared bear data has shown the area from Cottonwood Lake to Hall Siding, particularly the areas of Apex and Camp Busk, are heavily used by grizzly bears in the spring. The bears use this area because of its high valued forage habitat. In most cases the bears move on to higher elevations by the middle of June. It is felt that an annual closure will help ensure public safety and benefit the local bear population from over exposure.
As black bear and grizzly bear activity is common in the spring and early summer, bears may be present on the trail system throughout the year so please remember to always:
•do not attempt to view or approach bears
•do not leave garbage or food on trails.
The regional district asks the public to respect all closures and appreciates your cooperation.