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B.C. wilderness offers much-needed respite amid pandemic, say 2 naturalists

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2020-08-09 CBC/Radio-Canada

When out looking for birds in the South Okanagan, nature photographer Liron Gertsman was surprised to be treated to a chorus of howling coyotes — what he described as "music from the grasslands."

"I never saw one of them but they sounded so close," the 19-year-old nature photographer said Thursday to Michelle Eliot, host of CBC's B.C. Today.

That encounter in the Okanagan was one of many highlights from Gertsman's recent trip photographing wildlife across British Columbia.

Since B.C. began Phase 3 of the province's COVID-19 reopening plans, more of us have tried to shake off our cabin fever by venturing into B.C.'s wilderness.

Gertsman and fellow naturalist Connel Bradwell, host of CBC's Hello Spring, agree: B.C.'s great outdoors might be the perfect antidote to the pandemic blues.

"It's just a nice break to take your mind away from all the stresses that are going on," Bradwell told B.C. Today listeners from a stop in Nelson. 

During his trek across the province, Bradwell hopes to enjoy everything summers in B.C. have to offer, from songbirds who migrate south in the winter to the wildflowers currently blooming in the mountains. 

And the big ticket item in his next destination, Fernie? Grizzly bears. 

But be careful, Bradwell says.

Always do your research before venturing into the wild, said the British-born wildlife educator. Check out what species are in the area, what they look like and what their behaviour may be.

If you're in a bear-prone area, bring bear spray just in case an aggressive encounter occurs, he added. And avoid feeding animals or getting too close.

A few B.C. Today listeners called in to share their recent experiences with B.C. wildlife: a back-road encounter with a lynx near Chilcotin; a pod of humpback whales passing by Savary Island; and two-dozen American white pelicans soaring over Okanagan Lake.

That last story particularly struck Bradwell, who's never before seen that species of pelican in B.C.

"I'm just very, very jealous of your encounter. Amazing."

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