The steep terrain and deep snow of the McGregor Mountains northeast of Prince George, offer excellent habitat conditions for mountain caribou. However the area also offer prime conditions for snowmobilers. Sadly, the two can’t co-exist.
With falling population numbers for caribou, Conservation Officers are stepping up enforcement work in the region. “We’re trying to provide the mothers, pregnant cows anyway, with an opportunity over the winter to avoid being disturbed,” said Duncan McCall, a Regional Bioligist with the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. He added, “We want her to be able to be in the best body condition they can, so when they calve in the spring, they’re going to have a better chance of survival.”
The Hart Range Caribou herd is known to roam the McGregor range. The population of the herd has dropped by 40 percent since 2012. Only 246 animals remain. It’s trends like this that have driven the increased enforcement plans. “We’ll be out in the air, we’ll be out on sleds, we’ll be out on the roads. We’ll be watching. And it’s not just this region,” said Conservation Officer Eamon McArthur.
Snowmobilers who drift into caribou protected areas, face possible fines and may even have their sleds seized. Riders can click here to go to a provincial government website to learn exactly where closures exist.