Conservation officers handed out tickets to snowmobilers operating in closed caribou habitat near Quesnel Lake, east of Williams Lake in recent weeks.
Sgt. Jeff Tyre of the Cariboo Chilcotin zone said officers received a report of three snowmobiles operating within the Grain Creek Closure east of Likely Feb. 17, 2021. Conservation officers attended and located three local men on snowmobiles just outside of the closure.
“An investigation into the day’s activities revealed that they had spent several hours in the closure leaving extensive tracks throughout,” Tyre said, noting, the snowmobile operators were cooperative and were issued violation tickets for operating snowmobiles in a Wildlife Act closure. Some additional Off Road Vehicle Act offences were also dealt with onsite.
The Conservation Officer Service carried out two helicopter flights in the month of February with the primary purpose of identifying areas where snowmobile operators have taken their machines into snowmobile closures meant to protect caribou and caribou habitat. Tyre said neither flight located any incursions but actual caribou were seen on each of the flights, primarily in the Grain Creek Closure.
So far this year Tyre said there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of incursions into the snowmobile closures. He noted the compliance is at least partially due to an increased public awareness of the caribou’s plight and snowmobile closures through education, outreach and snowmobile clubs working to educate their membership.
“This is great to see and everyone’s hard work is appreciated.”
Tyre said while the flights provide a larger picture of what’s happening east of Williams Lake, Quesnel and 100 Mile House, there are many areas where officers are routinely conducting snowmobile and vehicle patrols which target known and historical access points to snowmobile closures.
“Unfortunately there are those that persist in going into closures despite increased signage and the ability to download closure maps onto personal electronic devices (iPhones, iPads, GPS’s),” he added.