Snowmobilers have been shut out of swaths of the back country around Nakusp and Trout Lake for years. B.C. Government map.

New system to keep Nakusp-area snowmobilers, caribou from meeting

GPS tracking keeps caribou safe while opening up the backcountry for sledding

A new monitoring system will allow caribou and snowmobilers to better co-exist in the Selkirk Mountain range this winter.

The provincial government has announced a new GPS tracking system it says will minimize interactions between the local caribou herd and snowmobilers in the Arrow Lakes-Trout Lake area.

“We’re very excited about the project, and government’s commitment to use this new technology to create this opportunity,” says Donegal Wilson, the executive director of the BC Snowmobile Federation.

The new system tracks the small herd’s location using data transmitted by GPS collars worn by some of the caribou. So instead of a blanket ban on snowmobiling in the area, locals will find only a few areas closed to snowmobiling, while other parts that contain no caribou remain open.

Local snowmobilers simply have to check a website to find out where they can or cannot travel.

SEE: Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area

“In 2007 when the snowmobile closures were made in parts of the province, large circles were made to protect all the habitat the caribou may use in the next 10 years,” says Wilson. “This project is exciting because it puts us on the same platform as the heli-ski sector and other sectors that can visually see the caribou and adjust their plans for the day.”

The new approach is a result of a stewardship management agreement between the B.C. government and two outdoor recreational clubs, the Trout Lake Recreational Club and the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders.

“This is a great example of how we can use existing technology in a new way to help protect caribou, while still allowing British Columbians to access the backcountry in this region,” said Doug Donaldson, Minster of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in a statement.

“The members of these clubs will continue to enjoy their sport and the caribou in this herd will remain undisturbed.”

Under the Wildlife Act, all caribou habitat within the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area is closed to snowmobiling year-round. Through this agreement, however, limited access is being granted to new and existing members of the two local recreational clubs through an exemption permit.

Snowmobilers have to be members of the local clubs to be eligible to use the area.

“The B.C. Snowmobile Federation is pleased that the provincial government is seeking new adaptive management techniques for the recovery of mountain caribou,” added Wilson.

“The B.C. Snowmobile Federation has been advocating for years to utilize a rotating closure system that allows snowmobiling to occur in areas when caribou are not present. This new, innovative technology provides us with the opportunity for continued snowmobile access, while minimizing disturbance to caribou herds.”

Enforcement planned

Conservation officers patrol the management area regularly and have the authority to stop snowmobilers to check for compliance. Any snowmobiler found in the area who cannot produce a valid club membership and photo identification could face a $575 penalty, while snowmobilers found within an area that is closed to snowmobiling (regardless of the documents they carry) could also face a $575 fine.

The site is updated daily to allow for checks on the caribou’s location.

As a result, limited access to the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area may be granted through exemption permits to members of two local recreational clubs (the Trout Lake Recreational Club and the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders). The portions of the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area that remain closed to snowmobilers are determined in part by the herd’s last reported position.

A snowmobile operator who wants to ride in the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area but is not a member of the Trout Lake Recreational Club or the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders can apply to join one of these clubs on the website for an annual fee: https://snowmobileselkirks.ca

Under the clubs’ exemption permit, members can enter currently open areas of the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area. A condition of the exemption permit is that club members must log onto the website before entering the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area and confirm that they have viewed a map showing which portion(s) of the management area are closed to snowmobiling. This map, available to club members, is updated daily at 3:30 a.m. PT.

Wilson says she expects snowmobilers in the region will whole-heartedly adopt the new system.

“They are 100-per-cent onboard,” says Wilson. “We’ve had a lot of excitement about the program even before it was released. It was very hard to keep a lid on it while we were getting the details worked out. We are expecting very high compliance from our riders.”

Wilson says the new system offers protection to the province’s $299 million snowmobile industry.

“This is an opportunity for that economic benefit to continue in a responsible way,” she says.

SEE: Nakusp sledders move poker derby to protect caribou

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

Just Posted

Kootenay doctor among 82 physicians, dentists calling on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Structures not threatened by wildfires burning in the Arrow and Kootenay Lakes region

Official says more lightning-caused fires could occur in region over next 36 hours

West Kootenay region experiences drier-than-normal July: Report

The region only received around 57% of its normal precipitation during the month

Feds fund $2M for habitat conservation in the Kootenays

Kootenay Connect to use funding for habitat conservation to protect four areas in the region

No new COVID cases in Kootenay-Boundary

As of July 30, there were no additional cases in the previous two weeks

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Health Canada recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list

Organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional

Airborne hot dog strikes Greater Victoria pedestrian

Police called to 4200-block of Quadra Street for hot dog incident

Most Read