Vehicle restrictions are in place to protect big game wildlife in areas severely affected by wildfires this summer.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development made the announcement Friday that two motor vehicle restrictions are being implemented under the Wildlife Act and are in immediate effect until December 10, 2017.
- 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.
- Within the area of the Elephant Hill fire, the use of ATVs for the purpose of licensed hunting is also prohibited from within Management Units 3-28, 3-29, and 3-30, and that portion of Management Unit 3-17 north of Highway 99.
The restrictions do not apply to First Nations exercising Aboriginal rights to hunt.
“In the long-term wildlife benefit from wildfire. However, in the short-term there can be negative impacts,” said the Ministry.
“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.”
The restrictions are expected to be in place until access and visibility conditions return to a state where wildlife are less vulnerable. Government will monitor their effectiveness, and dependent on the review, further hunting restrictions may be implemented.
The Ministry notes that wildfires in the East Kootenays have also been severe and that the Province is currently reviewing their extent and impact on wildlife.