CHETWYND, B.C. — Officials with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development are asking for the public’s help to determine who interfered with a caribou recovery program by illegally “reactivating” an intentionally closed portion of the Fisher Creek Forest Service Road.
This specific road was taken out of service to assist with the recovery of the Klinse-Za caribou herd, which currently consists of about 70 animals. The recovery project is a joint effort by the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations, supported by Wildlife Infometrics, Woodlands North and the B.C. government. Closing the road was intended to discourage recreationalists and natural predators from using the former roadway to gain access to areas where the caribou herd could be found, while also helping to protect pregnant cows and newborns during the calving season.
The government-approved deactivation of five stretches of the Fisher Creek Forest Service Road in the Mount Bickford area near Chetwynd was completed last Fall at a cost of about $140,000. However, the road is suspected to have been illegal reopened sometime between October 9th and October 19th.
The person who partially reactivated the Fisher Creek Forest Service Road used heavy equipment to remove logs and level out piles of dirt, but only managed to clear about two-thirds of the affected roadway before the illegal activity was discovered on October 19th. The road has since been deactivated once again, at a cost of about $20,000.
Natural resource officers are actively investigating this incident, but have not yet identified the culprit, due in part to the site’s remote location. The person responsible faces significant penalties under the Forest and Range Practices Act and/or the Water Sustainability Act – up to $500,000 in fines or up to two years in jail.
Anyone with information about the Fisher Creek Forest Service Road incident can call the Natural Resource Violation Reporting line, toll-free at 1 877 952-7277 or call #7277 on a cellphone. A report can also be submitted online at: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hen/nrv/report.htm