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Pair get record-setting fines for snowmobiling in protected B.C. mountain caribou area

Southern Mountain Caribou. (via Nature Conservancy of Canada)

Two men have received thousands of dollars in fines for snowmobiling in areas closed for the mountain caribou.

The fines total $9,050 and are the largest ever imposed by a B.C. provincial court in relation to caribou closures. In a Facebook post the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) called it a "precedent-setting case."

The incident occurred in March 2019 when Conservation Officers and the RCMP did a helicopter patrol of the area east of Williams Lake. The two men were riding their snowmobiles near Quesnel Lake in the Grain Creek snowmobile closure when they were first spotted.

"The two operators went to significant efforts to evade all attempts by officers to make contact but were eventually arrested near Caribou Lake," writes the BCCOS.

The two men were then fined for their actions.

"One man was fined $5,050 after being found guilty of operating a snowmobile in a closed area, obstructing a Conservation Officer and operating a snowmobile in a reckless manner," writes the BCCOS. "The other man was fined $4,000 for operating a snowmobile in a closed area."

B.C.'s mountain caribou are officially a threatened species in Canada.

"Recreational snowmobiling in illegal areas can displace mountain caribou from high-quality winter habitat, threatening an already endangered population," states the BCCOS. "Snowmobile closures to protect critical mountain caribou habitat are in place across B.C."

The province has over 1 million hectares of land closed to snowmobiles in an effort to protect the mountain caribou.

"The COS hopes these significant fines will deter any snowmobilers from a similar incident," writes the provincial agency.

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