4 B.C. alpine trails temporarily closed after owl attacks skiers

A grey-horned owl has attacked several skiers this week on ski trails south of Kamloops, B.C., according to the Overland Ski Club. (Liam Singh/Flickr - image credit)
A grey-horned owl has attacked several skiers this week on ski trails south of Kamloops, B.C., according to the Overland Ski Club. (Liam Singh/Flickr - image credit)

Four ski trails south of Kamloops, B.C., have been temporarily closed after an owl attacked several skiers.

The Overlander Ski Club, about 30 kilometres away from the city, told CBC News on Friday that it had closed its Little Joe trail for the entire day. Three other trails, Ponderosa, Hoss and Sk'elép, are closed from 5 to 10 p.m. because of a "very aggressive" grey-horned owl flying around those areas.

The runs are part of a network known as the Stave Lake ski trails.

"[The owl] is likely defending a nest," the club wrote on its Facebook page. "It is best if you avoid these trails at night for the next week and ski in groups of people instead of alone."

Joel Wood was one of the night skiers visiting the emergency room at Kamloops's Royal Inland Hospital for a tetanus vaccination after his skin was punctured by the animal Thursday night.

Tetanus bacteria, typically found in dirt and soil, enter the body through wounds, cuts or animal bites. Severe muscle spasms can appear within 14 days of exposure and can cause potentially deadly breathing problems, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Wood says he was skiing the Cartwheel trail west of Little Joe near Stake Lake when it happened.

I was tucking down a small hill, and the owl first took a pass at me and hit my poles that were sticking out behind me.

"About 100 metres later, it took another pass at me and hit me in the head with its talons and scratched my ear a bit," he told Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

"It really spooked me out, getting hit in the head like that."

Wood says he feels fine after getting treated and will continue skiing at night but will avoid the Cartwheel trail for now.

"I don't really want to get attacked again."

ImmunizeBC says people can get vaccinated against tetanus and recommends adults get a tetanus booster every 10 years or after suffering serious wounds.