Two Williams Lake men have been fined $9,050 in connection with snowmobiling in areas closed to protect mountain caribou – the largest fines imposed in B.C. provincial court related to caribou closures in a precedent-setting case for the Conservation Officer Service.
One man was fined $5,050 after being found guilty of operating a snowmobile in a closed area, obstructing a Conservation Officer and operating a snowmobile in a reckless manner. The other man was fined $4,000 for operating a snowmobile in a closed area.
The majority of the fines – $8,700 – will go to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
In March 2019, Conservation Officers and RCMP conducted a joint helicopter patrol of snowmobile closures east of Williams Lake. Two snowmobilers were seen operating within the Grain Creek snowmobile closure near Quesnel Lake. The two operators went to significant efforts to evade all attempts by officers to make contact but were eventually arrested near Cariboo Lake.
Recreational snowmobiling in illegal areas can displace mountain caribou from high-quality winter habitat, threatening an already endangered population. Snowmobile closures to protect critical mountain caribou habitat are in place across B.C. – more than one million hectares across the mountain caribou range are closed to motorized winter recreation to support population recovery.
The COS hopes these significant fines will deter any snowmobilers from a similar incident.
Snowmobile closure patrols will continue throughout this winter season. To report violations, please call the RAPP line.