A GPS map shows the boundaries of the area closed to snowmobile traffic, the locations of signs warning snowmobilers to stay out and the site of caribou tracks spotted recently. (Contributed)

A GPS map shows the boundaries of the area closed to snowmobile traffic, the locations of signs warning snowmobilers to stay out and the site of caribou tracks spotted recently. (Contributed)

Respect for caribou urged after snowmobile tracks found in closed area near Sicamous

Evidence of caribou on Queest Mountain is also found for the first time in years

The Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club and local conservation officers are urging snowmobilers to make better choices after tracks were sighted heading into the backcountry near Sicamous that is closed to protect a fragile mountain caribou herd.

Signs placed by the snowmobile club mark an area of Queest Mountain northeast of Sicamous which is closed to snowmobile traffic and maps of the closed area are readily accessible. However, a Saturday, Jan. 23 patrol by conservation officers turned up at least two groups of tracks crossing into the prohibited area.

Vernon-based conservation officer Tanner Beck said one set of tracks appeared to be a few days old, but the other seemed to be made just hours before he arrived. One set of tracks passed right next to one of the bright yellow snowmobiling prohibited signs. Further information on the caribou closure is posted at the trailhead used to access the area.

The sleds weren’t the only things leaving tracks on the snow-covered mountain. Beck said fresh caribou tracks which seem to be made by four animals were also spotted. Queest Mountain sits at the western edge of the area used by the group of caribou known as the Frisby-Boulder herd.

Read More: Sicamous student challenges himself, peers to go nine school days cell phone free

Read More: Shuswap Ringette players shine in skills competition

Both Beck and Dan Morin, who reports caribou activity and non-compliance in the caribou closures on behalf of the snowmobile club, said the tracks spotted by conservation officers represent the first clear sign of caribou on Queest Mountain in years.

According to information provided by the provincial government’s Caribou Recovery Program, many of Southern B.C.’s caribou herds are in decline but the Frisby-Boulder Herd is especially fragile. It’s size was estimated at only 11 animals in late 2019.

Restrictions on snowmobiling in certain areas as well as logging bans and wolf culls are all part of the province’s effort to turn around the population decline in what are some of the most southerly caribou populations on earth. Despite the work being done, some herds have disappeared completely in recent years.

Read More: Letter: In light of Keystone decision, Trudeau, Kenney fail to deliver real support for workers

Read More: COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Morin said the local snowmobile club, which holds a stewardship management agreement for the area, is doing everything it can to ensure closed areas are respected and the local caribou population stays healthy. Morin files a monthly report on caribou activity and the snowmobile club provides maps and other information to sledders to promote respect for the area’s caribou.

According to Morin, a member of the sled club rode up to confirm there were caribou tracks in the area and a snowmobile had definitely ridden directly past the sign telling sledders not to continue.

Morin appealed to sledders, noting that further restrictions on riding in the backcountry could result from entering the restricted area. He added that conservation officers are a welcome sight on the mountain in the winter and more patrols are needed to help enforce the closed area.

Beck said further enforcement of the Queest Mountain closure will definitely be happening this winter.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CaribouSicamous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is seeking input for parks master plan. (Contributed)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen seeks input about parks

Community and resident feedback will be used for Parks, Trails and Recreation Master Plan

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen will hold its volunteer Pitch-In event April 22 to 24. (Black Press file photo)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to hold Pitch-In event

Event planned for April 22 to 24 coincides with National Volunteer Week

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Hikers are still able to climb to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland, but the paved road to the upper parking lot will be closed from 7 a.m. to noon and all day on Sundays. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland park partially closed to vehicle traffic

Giant’s Head Mountain Park gates will be closed to cars until noon

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Young cyclists from Quebec have not been riding single file on Naramata’s narrow and windy roads, causing the ire of locals worried for their safety and theirs. (Dan Moskaluk)
Quebec cyclists bad road behaviour causing stir in Penticton

The young cycling group illegally riding two-abreast on Naramata’s narrow roads

MP Todd Doherty took to Facebook after his family recently received threats. (Todd Doherty, MP Facebook photo)
‘I don’t run and I don’t hide’: Cariboo MP says RCMP probing threats made against family

Todd Doherty has also notified House of Commons Protective Services

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

The music video for “Green and Blue” featured a Willington Care Centre in Burnaby as well as some of the volunteers and employees. (Screenshot/Todd Richard)
‘Green and Blue’: B.C. country musician releases tribute song for front-line workers

Richard’s new single has been viewed more than 3,000 times on his YouTube channel

Most Read