Off-road ve­hi­cles fine in­creased to help pro­tect sen­si­tive habi­tats

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Cit­i­zen staff

The penalty for tak­ing a snow­mo­bile or other off-road ve­hi­cle into a pro­tected area has been in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly.

Ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, the fine is $575, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment said Tues­day, up from ei­ther $230 or $345, de­pend­ing on the vi­o­la­tion. The in­tent is to bet­ter pro­tect en­vi­ron­men­tally-sen­si­tive habi­tats and species at risk.

The pre­vi­ous fines “did not re­flect the ef­fect” the im­pact vi­o­la­tors have had on those ar­eas and species, the prov­ince said.

Vi­o­la­tion tick­ets may be is­sued un­der the Wildlife Act or the Park Act by po­lice, con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cers, nat­u­ral re­source of­fi­cers or park rangers.

Court con­vic­tions for snow­mo­bil­ing in south­ern moun­tain cari­bou habi­tats also may re­sult in a fine up to $200,000 and six months im­pris­on­ment, the prov­ince added.

Experts have said the prac­tice makes it eas­ier for preda­tors to hunt the an­i­mal by pack­ing down trails into their win­ter habitat.

“Cari­bou are con­sid­ered a species at risk, and pro­tect­ing cari­bou habitat ranges is cru­cial to the sur­vival of the species,” of­fi­cials said.

“Con­trolled and lim­ited ac­cess to sen­si­tive habi­tats by off-road ve­hi­cles, such as snow­mo­biles, is the most ef­fec­tive way to pro­tect these ar­eas and wildlife from harm­ful recre­ation ac­tiv­i­ties.”

The prov­ince has put aside $27 mil­lion over three years to es­tab­lish a cari­bou re­cov­ery pro­gram.

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