04/21/2015 11:39 EDT | Updated 07/13/2015 05:59 EDT

Rattlesnake warning issued for southern Interior of B.C.

The warm spring has rattlesnakes out of their dens early in B.C., prompting a warning to hikers to stay on trails and to keep their dogs on a leash.

Frank Ritcey,  the provincial coordinator for Wildsafe B.C., says rattlesnakes are usually harmless, unless they are agitated or spooked.

"Over the years a number of dogs have received bites and some have died as result, here in Kamloops," said Ritcey.

Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes are found in the province's dry south-central interior valleys, including the Okanagan-Similkameen, Thompson, Nicola and Kettle valleys, as well as the Lytton-Lillooet portion of the Fraser Canyon.

Ritcey said people should consider themselves lucky if they see a rattlesnake as very few people ever get the chance.