COS patrol issues charges to riders within mountain caribou habitat

A patrol by the COS resulted in the location of snowmobiles operating in protected caribou habitat.

Williams Lake Conservation Officers Ron Leblanc (left) and Jared Connatty conduct a patrol in the Mica Mountain area east of Horsefly and Likely where three snowmobiles were located in closed caribou habitat areas. (Photo courtesy of the Conservation Officer Service)

A patrol by the Conservation Officer Service in the Mica Mountain area Saturday resulted in the location of three snowmobiles operating within protected mountain caribou habitat.

Conservation Officer Jared Connatty of the Williams Lake Conservation Officer Service said the snowmobilers were discovered during an aerial patrol of the area.

“Four charges and three warnings were issued to the group of three,” Connatty said. “Those range from operating a snowmobile in a closed area and some off-road vehicle act violations, as well.”

It’s part of an ongoing increased effort by the COS to monitor protected areas this year, and in the future.

READ MORE: Caribou habitat protection focus of partnership

“In this case the snowmobiles weren’t seized, however, in the past it has happened,” he said, adding it’s important for riders to educate themselves before they head out in the backcountry.

“There are lots of opportunities and lots of resources out there in terms of GPS mapping, or things they can download on their phones that show riders where they are in relation to the boundaries.

“They’re in place to reduce the impacts to a struggling mountain caribou population and that’s why we’re conducting these efforts. It’s high on our priority list for this year and for upcoming years, as well.”

Saturday’s aerial search was the first the COS has conducted this year. Connatty said, for the most part, riders are good about following boundary restrictions as roughly 25 riders were spotted in the area.

“These were the violations we detected,” he said. “Riders are normally very good and compliant of the closure boundaries but there’s always just those few who haven’t educated themselves as they should.”

He pointed to the ministry of environment’s snowmobile guide of B.C. as a resource for any snowmobilers looking for information prior to heading out, as well as reading signage posted in popular riding area’s parking lots.

“Stop, have a look and get a feel for the area,” Connatty said. “These popular areas will have those maps right there in the parking lots, plus there’s avalanche information there, as well. If you know where you’re going it can save you a lot of money in the end.”

The COS, he added, will continue to conduct patrols in identified areas throughout the region and province for the duration of the riding season.

“The COS is very supportive of riding opportunities as long as they’re in the places they should be,” he said.

He asked if anyone witnesses any violations to call the COS RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line at 1-877-952-7277.

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