British Columbia

Weekend rescue prompts search-crew warning to mushroom pickers seeking bumper B.C. crop

Search crews fear the rescue of a mushroom picker who went missing in B.C.'s Interior on the weekend may be the first of many similar calls this summer.

Kamloops Search and Rescue fears spike in calls as post-wildfire ‘goldmine’ draws fungus foragers to Interior

Morels are just one type of mushroom that emerge after a forest has been ravaged by fire. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Search crews fear the rescue of a mushroom picker who went missing overnight in B.C.'s Interior may be the first of many similar calls this summer.

Kamloops Search and Rescue were called Saturday evening when the man failed to return to his camp near Loon Lake, roughly 130 kilometres north of Kamloops, B.C. He was found the following morning.

"It was a long night out there … the mosquitos were just horrendous," said KSAR member Mike Ritcey.

Last summer's wildfires have led to a bumper crop of mushrooms in the Interior this year and pickers are expected to flock to the area.

"Wherever there were fires there are people picking, and we had a lot of fires last year," Ritcey told Shelley Joyce, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

An estimated 160 pickers were part of the group near Loon Lake this past weekend. The missing man told Ritcey that he'd found a "goldmine" of mushrooms all over.

Advice for pickers

An experienced picker can get 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of mushrooms a day and, with some restaurants paying $20 per pound, it can be a lucrative venture.

But experience in picking doesn't mean someone won't get lost, Ritcey said.

"With your head down and picking mushrooms, you're not paying attention to which way you came in or which way you have to go to get out," he said.

Ritcey advises that mushroom pickers should:

  • Bring a GPS or compass
  • Know the area and bring a map
  • Find out where the roads in and out are
  • Bring the 10 essentials
  • Let people know their plans and route

With files from Daybreak Kamloops.