Four ski trails south of Kamloops, BC, had to be closed for nighttime skiing after an owl reportedly attacked several skiers. Joel Wood, Associate Professor of Economics at Thompson Rivers University, was cross-country skiing on the Stake Lake Trails on Wednesday evening, January 11, 2023, when an owl swooped down on him twice, striking first his ski pole and then later his head.
”I turned aorund to see this massive, massive grey owl. It was quite startling but also quite cool to see this incredible wingspan. It was the biggest bird I’ve ever seen,” Joel Wood reported in an interview with CBC. He admits though, “It really spooked me out, getting hit in the head like that.”
While he did not feel any pain then, he noticed blood and went to the Kamloops hospital, where the local nurse administered a tetanus shot out of precaution. The nurse told him three other people were waiting to see a doctor that evening because of injuries sustained by an owl attack. Overlander Ski Club, which manages the Stake Lake Trails, confirmed on Facebook that five cross-country skiers had been swooped and scratched that night. Consequently, the ski club ended up closing Little Joel trail entirely, and three other trails, Ponderosa, Hoss, and Sitting Bull, have been closed from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Since this week, Little Joel appears to be open again during the daytime, as no further attacks have been reported.
Great Horned Owls are known for their fearlessness and aggressive nature. They often attack prey larger and heavier than themselves, such as cats, skunks, and small dogs. During the breeding season, typically between January and February, they are known to attack even larger predators, including humans. Owls are nocturnal, and biologists suggest that the owl is most likely defending its nest. Be vigilant that owls can swoop during the day but are more likely to be active at night. So if you are in the Stake Lake area, please do not go out alone and avoid the closed trails at night.
Stake Lake is a small resort with 60km of cross-country trails, 5km of dog-friendly trails, 20km of snowshoe trails, and 7km of Adventure Trails. It is situated about 30km from Kamloops, BC, about five hours northeast of Vancouver.