Dozens of charges and warnings were written for everything from mud bogging to fishing without a licence in the backcountry over the long weekend as more than a dozen conservation officers and staff from the natural resources ministry took enforcement off paved roads.
Although there weren’t the numbers of people typically found during summer long weekends, CO supervisor for the North Okanagan, Josh Lockwood, said his staff laid 40 charges and wrote 49 warnings over the weekend.
Thousands were out camping and riding, hiking and fishing in the hills around Kelowna, although some popular areas higher up were still deep in snow this year because of the late spring.
Charges ranged from small vessel violations such as not having life jackets, lack of an operator competency card and lack of boat registration to fishing violations for lack of a licence, using illegal gear and fishing in prohibited areas.
There were also some charges assessed for damaging the environment and off-roading in sensitive areas.
Some people were also given tickets for camping in a closed area and ordered to vacate, while others were charged for carrying open liquor.
“There were lots of people out,” said Lockwood.
Jim Beck, supervisor for the Penticton area for the CO service, agreed with Lockwood’s assessment. “It was busy in the bush. There were a lot of campers,” he noted.
Beck said they issued a violation ticket against someone mud bogging in a little wetland at the south end of Glen Lake near Peachland, after it was reported to them by a member of the public.
As well, they tried to keep the lid on a rave taking place on a backroad between Summerland and Princeton.
Beck said they also patrolled Okanagan Lake, where tickets were issued for people fishing without licences, using barbed hooks, possession of live fish and fishing with too many lines.
“There was poor compliance with the boat safety regulations, so we gave out a lot of warnings. They were for violations for life jacket requirements, lack of signal devices and other regulations,” said Beck.
However, he said fishing was productive, and they watched one fellow bring in a beautiful eight-pound rainbow, which he released.
Enforcement efforts will continue through summer, with a particular emphasis on boating safety, because of the nine or so fatalities on the water in the valley last year, noted Beck.
Conservation officers in both Vernon and Penticton dealt with several bear complaints, with the fourth put down in Penticton this year and two put down in Vernon because of aggressive behaviour.
One bear west of Penticton had climbed onto a shed and was peeling off the shakes to get at garbage stored inside, said Beck.
He advises people to keep garbage containers clean and bag garbage to reduce the smell, as well as keeping it inside.
He also recommended taking in bird feeders, because the seed dropped attracts bears.