The Ministry of Forests announced Friday it is putting vehicle restrictions in place for areas impacted by the Elephant Hill, Chilcotin Plateau and Hanceville-Riske Creek fires to protect wildlife. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Vehicle restrictions in place to protect big game in wildfire areas

Ministry implements vehicle restrictions in areas impacted by fires to protect wildlife

To protect big game wildlife in areas severely affected by the summer’s wildfires the province announced late Friday it is putting two motor vehicle restrictions in place.

Wildfires in the Thompson and Cariboo regions have enabled motor vehicle access by hunters to remote moose and mule deer habitats that were previously only accessible by foot, the Ministry of Forests said in a press release, noting in addition, loss of vegetation from fires has significantly increased lines of sight for hunters.

Under the wildlife act, there are now restrictions in the Elephant Hill fire area of the Thompson region and within the Chilcotin Plateau and Hanceville-Riske Creek fires, effective until Dec. 10.

READ MORE: Hunting season being “assessed”by provincial government

READ MORE: Wildlife may survive these wildfires, if they’re fast

In the Elephant Hill fire area the use of ATVs for the purpose of licensed hunting is prohibited within Management Units 3-28, 3-29, and 3-30, and that portion of Management Unit 3-17 north of Highway 99.

Within the Chilcotin Plateau and Hanceville-Riske Creek fire areas the use of all motor vehicles for the purpose of licensed hunting is prohibited except on designated highways and mainline forestry roads.

The restrictions are expected to be in place until access and visibility conditions return to a state where wildlife are less vulnerable, the ministry said, noting the new restrictions do not apply to First Nations exercising Aboriginal rights to hunt.

Government will monitor the effectiveness of the restrictions and dependent on the review, further hunting restrictions may be implemented.

As wildfires in the East Kootenays have also been severe, the province is currently reviewing their extent and impact on wildlife, which may lead to further access restrictions, the ministry noted.

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