Kamloops’ unique microclimate means that our region is home to a diverse array of wildlife as we are at the northernmost tip of some animal ranges and at the southernmost point of others. Here are six of the most common types of wildlife that you might see around Kamloops.
California Bighorn Sheep
Keep an eye out for our famous bighorn sheep. Look out for the massive horns of these incredible animals, who have adapted to survive in a range of environments from the snowy Rockies to the desert-like Interior. They’ve been around in North America since the last ice age, and they tend to roam in groups of 5 to 20. Be on the lookout for them amongst the sagebrush and hoodoos as you drive along East Shuswap Road towards Harper's Trail Winery and Sagewood Winery.
The Kamloops area is home to three quirky owl species. Kamloops sits at the northernmost edge of the range for endangered burrowing owls, who make their burrows around the Pritchard and Lac Du Bois areas and can be identified by their long legs and short bodies. We’re also at the southern range of other species, such as northern hawk owls - these birds are long-tailed owls that behave in a hawk-like way with daytime hunting and solitary perching. Great Grey Owls are also prominent in the area and are distinguished by the white bowtie around their neck.
Covered in thick ruddy black fur, playful river otters tend to make their homes along the banks of the Thompson River and on smaller tributaries. Listen to hear them playing with their noisy grunts, chirps, and squeals as they are much more active than other similar-looking animals such as beavers (otters are much slenderer too).
Black bears are also visible around the region in spring through to fall. While spotting a bear can be an awesome experience, be bear smart, and don’t feed them or leave garbage when you’re camping or visiting a park. If you want to view black bears in a safe capacity, the BC Wildlife Park is home to 4 black bears – Tuk, Nuumes, Hamilton, and Clover the Spirit Bear. They were all orphaned at a young age and the BC Wildlife Park was able to provide them with a home to serve as ambassadors for their species.
Don’t forget to look up! Kamloops is home to birds such as warblers, sparrows, wrens, and nighttime visitors include the hoary bat and big brown bat. Walk the Aviation Way Trail past the Kamloops Airport and be treated with sights of Bald Eagles - look for their large nests nestled high in the trees.
Kamloops is at the northernmost range for reptiles such as racer snakes, gopher snakes, and spadefoot toads. Although a rare sight, rattlesnakes do live in the area on the north side of the Thompson River - keep calm if you see a rattlesnake and give it space to avoid any interaction. Learn more for tips from Wild Safe BC when exploring the outdoors.
Remember to be Adventure Smart when you are adventuring into the outdoors and be respectful of habitats.