Skiers and snowmobilers urged to help protect Telkwa caribou

The B.C. government is asking skiers and snowmobilers to avoid certain backcountry areas to protect threatened northern caribou populations.

Backcountry skiers and snowmobilers are being urged to take care not to disrupt threatened northern caribou populations.

Encounters between caribou and people can displace the animals from their preferred winter habitats, forcing them into steeper terrain where foraging is less efficient and avalanche hazards are higher.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Management today called on people taking part in winter recreation to abide by a voluntary agreement made in 2003 not to use certain backcountry areas.

The agreement, created by the provincial government, is supported by 15 local stakeholder groups including snowmobile clubs, naturalists and hunters.

A spokesperson at the Ministry said today’s request was a seasonal reminder and was not prompted by a specific incident.

The Ministry offered some advice for snowmobilers and skiers who encounter the animals.

It said not to approach them and to turn off all snowmobile engines to give them a chance to move away.

People should leave the area as soon as possible and avoid riding within sight of the caribou.

It is estimated less than 20 animals remain in the Telkwa caribou herd.

To view a map of the voluntary access restrictions under the agreement, as well as the three primary trails for off-road vehicle use, visit https://www.flickr.com/gp/bcgovphotos/157i88.

Information about the whereabouts of collared caribou, which can be used to plan trips to avoid them, can be found online at the Telkwa Caribou Recovery Facebook page.

For information on snowmobiling regulations, visit http://www.snowmobile.gov.bc.ca or contact a local Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations office, snowmobile club or FrontCounter BC office.