The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) released a statement in late October announcing hunting regulation changes in response to wildfires in the East Kootenay region. The province is taking initiative to protect big game wildlife that have been exposed due to the severity of wildfires this season.
“Newly built fireguards coupled with existing fireguards from previous fires, and other industrial road construction has enabled greater hunter access to remote habitats that were previously only accessible by foot. Lines of sight for hunters have increased dramatically in some areas of high fire severity where vegetation has burned,” said FLNRORD in a press release.
Five fire perimeters in the vicinity of White/Bull River, Linklater Creek, Lam Creek, Soowa Mountain and Island Pond will be closed from September 1st to June 30th to motor vehicles that are designated for hunting until the problem is resolved, said FLNRORD.
Local hunters were asked by FLNRORD earlier in the year if they supported the closures and members of Lake Windermere Rod & Gun Club were on board with the initiative, according to club president Rick Hoar.
The club is known as a conservation-minded organization that is dedicated to the preservation of the natural environment but they were disappointed that only hunters were singled out.
Mr. Hoar told the Pioneer he felt FLNRORD was targeting hunters specifically and that other areas of concern were being neglected by the ministry.
“We said yes we could support that so we knew that was coming, but all they’ve done now is earmark the hunters and they’re talking about vehicle access and I went out and looked at the White River fire and some of those areas have been scorched. What we’re looking at is why are they just going after the hunters if they’re talking about vehicle access closures?” said Mr. Hoar. “When you look at some of this wildfire in the area the impact has been so horrendous that the ground is really in fragile shape and it should be complete access closure. What about the anglers? What about mushroom pickers? What about all the people who are just out recreating? For us we think they should be talking about a total ban on the land base if it’s in such fragile shape.”
BC Fish and Wildlife Head, Holger Bohm, responded to the concerns of Mr. Hoar stating that to put an Access Management Areas (AMA) on the entire area would be unprecedented.
“It’s quite a lengthy process to determine what needs to be done in this particular situation — we wanted to address the line of sight and then move on from there, it is highly unlikely we would put an AMA on the area because of its size,” said Mr. Bohm.
Access to hunters will be closed until the problem is resolved and it could be an ongoing issue, leaving the hunting community at a loss for an undetermined amount of time according to statements made by FLNRORD.
Maps of the affected areas can be found: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/kootenay/eco/access.htm.