The province is taking action to protect big game wildlife in areas severely affected by wildfires this summer.
In the long-term wildlife benefit from wildfire. However, in the short-term there can be negative impacts. For example, wildfires in the Thompson and Cariboo regions have enabled motor vehicle access by hunters to remote moose and mule deer habitats that were previously only accessible by foot. In addition, loss of vegetation from fires has significantly increased lines of sight for hunters.
To address the increased vulnerability of wildlife to hunters, two motor vehicle restrictions are being implemented under the Wildlife Act.
First, within the area of the Elephant Hill fire in the Thompson Region, the use of ATVs for the purpose of licensed hunting is prohibited from Sept. 1 to Dec. 10, 2017, within Management Units 3-28, 3-29, and 3-30, and that portion of Management Unit 3-17 north of Highway 99. A map is available online at: http://ow.ly/qdZF30fxfK2
Second, the use of all motor vehicles for the purpose of licensed hunting is prohibited within the Chilcotin Plateau and Hanceville-Riske Creek fires, except designated highways and mainline forestry roads, also from Sept. 1 to Dec. 10, 2017. A map is online at: http://ow.ly/oqNr30fxfPM
The restrictions are expected to be in place until access and visibility conditions return to a state where wildlife are less vulnerable. These new restrictions do not apply to First Nations exercising Aboriginal rights to hunt.
The restrictions are immediate and government will monitor their effectiveness. Dependent on the review, further hunting restrictions may be implemented.
Wildfires in the East Kootenays have also been severe. The Province is currently reviewing their extent and impact on wildlife, which may lead to further access restrictions.