A new way of using GPS tracking data will help minimize interactions between a herd of caribou and snowmobilers in the British Columbia Interior.
By tracking the herd's location using data transmitted by GPS collars worn by some of the caribou in the Central Selkirk herd, provincial biologists can now keep some parts of the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area closed to snowmobiling, while keeping other parts that contain no caribou open.
The new approach is a result of a stewardship management agreement between the B.C. government and two outdoor recreational clubs: Trout Lake Recreational Club and the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders.
"This is a great example of how we can use existing technology in a new way to help protect caribou, while still allowing British Columbians to access the backcountry in this region," said Doug Donaldson, Minster of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
"The members of these clubs will continue to enjoy their sport and the caribou in this herd will remain undisturbed."
Under the Wildlife Act (Motor Vehicle Prohibition Regulation), all caribou habitat within the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area is closed to snowmobiling year-round. Through this agreement, however, limited access is being granted to new and existing members of the two local recreational clubs through an exemption permit.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has been working with the BC Snowmobile Federation and the two clubs on this project. (Details about how the system works are included in the attached backgrounder.)
"The B.C. Snowmobile Federation is pleased that the provincial government is seeking new adaptive management techniques for the recovery of mountain caribou," said Donegal Wilson, executive director of the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation.
"The B.C. Snowmobile Federation has been advocating for years to utilize a rotating closure system that allows snowmobiling to occur in areas when caribou are not present. This new, innovative technology provides us with the opportunity for continued snowmobile access, while minimizing disturbance to caribou herds."
Conservation officers patrol the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area regularly and have the authority to stop snowmobilers to check for compliance. Any snowmobiler found in the area who cannot produce a valid club membership and photo identification could face a $575 penalty. Any snowmobilers found within an area that is closed to snowmobiling (regardless of the documents they carry) could also face a $575 penalty.