Bush road harms caribou

Provincial officials hope the public can help identify the people who interfered with a caribou recovery program in northeastern British Columbia by trying to reopen part of a closed backcountry road.

The Ministry of Forests says in a news release that someone used heavy equipment to remove logs, level out earthen barriers and fill deep pits that had been placed along sections of the Fisher Creek forest service road near Chetwynd.

The road was deactivated last fall to help assist with the recovery of the endangered Klinse-Za caribou herd, which currently numbers about 70 animals.

The ministry says the closure was intended to discourage people and predators from using the road to reach areas where the herd could be found.

Unauthorized construction or maintenance of a forest service road is against the law and ministry officials believe someone began to rebuild the route shortly after its closure but didn't complete the job before the work was discovered on Oct. 19.

The road has been deactivated again, at a cost of about $20,000, on top of the $140,000 spent when it was blocked the first time.

"Natural resource officers are actively investigating this incident, but have not yet identified the culprit, due in part to the site's remote location," says the release.

It says the road builder could face fines of up to $50,000 or two years in jail under the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Water Sustainability Act.

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