Once again, Sept. 1 marks the reopening of the BC Parks Belarko Wildlife Viewing Platform in Tweedsmuir Park near Bella Coola.
Located adjacent to the Belarko Boat Launch, the Platform is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is surrounded by an electric fence supported by a cedar-railed fence.
Members of the Nuxalk Nation will again participate in staffing the Platform, which will provide visitors with additional opportunities to learn about the cultural significance of this area to the Nuxalkmc people.
This year, visitors will notice several infrastructural improvements, including additional fencing, a reconfigured, more accessible walkway and new shelters, both at the reception area and on the Platform.
Now in its fifth season, the goal of the Platform is to increase safety for both the recreating public and the bears during this critical fall salmon run season.
It’s a popular place — last year there were 550 bear sightings (lots of repeat bears) and 2,600 visits.
BC Parks backgrounder states that, “The Atnarko/Highway 20 corridor of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is an area of excellent bear habitat and healthy populations of both grizzly and black bears.
Along with the privilege of viewing bears in their natural habitat comes the responsibility to ensure that we do not endanger bears, ourselves or other visitors and residents of the park.
The main objective of the Belarko Wildlife Viewing Platform is to increase the predictability of human behaviour along this section of the Atnarko River.
This will both reduce the risk of potential injury to park visitors from bear encounters and leave sections along the river where bears can feed undisturbed by humans.
The platform provides excellent visibility of the Atnarko River while ensuring safe separation distance between park visitors and foraging bears.
Visitors who wish to view bears and who choose not to make use of commercial guides are therefore encouraged to use the Belarko Wildlife Viewing Platform rather than other areas along the river corridor.”