Province cracks down on offenders who break wildlife, environmental laws
Fines totalling $235,900 imposed in first six months of 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The B.C. environment ministry says it is cracking down this year on people who break wildlife and environmental laws and regulations.
Fines totalling $235,900 were levied against offenders during the first six months of this year, according to a report released by the ministry.
The lion's share of the fines, $147,900, was imposed in the second quarter after the province doubled the fines for Wildlife Act offences in May.
From April through June:
- Eight orders were issued to stop impacts on the environment or to protect human health and safety.
- Forty-two administrative licence suspensions and other sanctions were applied against individual or commercial hunters or anglers for committing offences.
- Officers issued 463 tickets for disobeying hunting or fishing regulations.
- Ten convictions were obtained in court against persons contravening regulations.
Williams Lake trapper Ian Mobbs had his licence suspended for 14 months after leaving two traplines in operation beyond the trapping season. These abandoned traplines resulted in the snaring of two dogs and the deaths of four species of wildlife that also became ensnared.
According to the ministry, Mobbs didn't "have the means of managing his trap line such that the location of all trapping equipment was known. As a result active snares and traps were being left set."
In May of this year, the provincial government approved doubling the maximum fines and penalties for all offences under the Wildlife Act.
Environment Ministry spokeswoman Kate Thompson said the ministry felt that the fine schedule needed to make more of an impact on those who disobeyed the regulations.
"When you look at the costs people pay for a hunting expedition, the old fines seem fairly minimal," Thompson said.
The provincial government has hired five new conservation officers and two full-time officers are working out of a newly opened Maple Ridge office.
Also in the second quarter, a number of persons were charged with habitat damage.
A Penticton man, Victor Fitzgerald, was fined $20,000 after pleading guilty to two charges of removing soil from his property and dumping it into Okanagan Lake, resulting in a silt plume that disrupted fish habitat.
Fitzgerald's contractor, Wildstone Engineering and Construction Ltd., was fined $10,000.
Alex Zhang of Smithers was fined $18,000 for unlawful possession of dead wildlife.
Thompson said the ministry is also attempting to raise awareness about the damage done by off-road vehicles engaged in "mud-bogging" in sensitive wetlands, grasslands and sub-alpine areas.
Last year, new ticketing provisions were introduced to address this problem and a total of 21 tickets were issued by conservation officers to persons responsible for damaging terrain.
The ministry is encouraging the public to report instances of "human-wildlife conflict" that threaten public safety or result in significant property damage or to report dangerous wildlife spotted in urban areas.
So far this year, more than 19,000 reports on human-wildlife conflicts have been reported to the ministry, according to the firstname.lastname@example.org
© The Vancouver Sun 2008