Always know what's under the snow.
An Upper Mud River-area rancher west of Prince George is worried snowmobilers have no idea of the danger hidden under the snow on his irrigation pond and says they are putting their lives at risk.
Karl Wicki noticed tracks last week that led through his leased property on Crown land from the McBride Forest Service road and onto the 10-metre deep pond.
"It's happened once or twice before that people have crossed it without permission and this time of year it gets pretty dangerous because we don't know how thick the ice there is," Wicki said. "People don't think about things like that, until they go through it."
Wicki has seen where a snowmobile had broken through the ice in a shallow area of the pond. He says the sledders are even launching themselves off two large fir logs along the bank to jump onto the pond, a risky venture especially in springtime.
"If they get hurt, we couldn't get a machine close by and they'd have to walk or ski," said Wicki.
"When people do stupid things like that, that's taking your life in your hands. There are muskrat and all kinds of critters in there and you don't know where they have breathing holes."
The dam which formed the pond was built in 1987, flooding a canyon-like depression with a pond that runs one kilometre long and 300 metres wide. It irrigates Wicki's farmland and creates a drinking water supply for his cattle and wild animals in the area. Not only is it dangerous for humans to venture out on the ice but Wicki says the packed snowmobile trails that lead to the pond put animals at risk. He almost lost a pregnant cow that picked up the scent of water and followed a snowmobile track into the river. It broke through the ice and was buried up to its neck in icy water on a -20 C day.
"It took three of us to drag her up on the bank, she was almost frozen," said Wicki. "But she did pull through. I get tired when people pull stunts like that because it's not just people who can lose their lives but also cattle. We can't hear them because our pond is a kilometre from the house, and sometimes they come in at night."