The BCWF has received a number of questions with regards to outdoor recreation and the upcoming hunting season as it relates to COVID-19. The following is a summary of how to be prepared and how your camping, hiking, fishing or hunting trip could be impacted:
- Review Phase 3 – B.C.’s Restart Plan before you consider leaving home.
- Do not leave home if you are not feeling well.
- Do not enter, or stop in, any small communities that do not want visitors.
- Be prepared – bring all groceries and supplies for your entire trip and prepare for the unexpected.
- If you get sick, self-isolate, and call 811 for further guidance.
As it relates to possible information checkpoints:
- First Nations authority extends to communities. Several communities are closed to people from outside the community. Please avoid all remote communities, unless you are a local.
- First Nations, or Indian Reserves, are considered private property and as such, cannot be entered without permission.
- Respect all checkpoints and COVID-19 safety protocols. The RCMP or Conservation Officer Service will be at some checkpoints to monitor the situation.
As it relates to possible blockades:
- Blockades barring access outside of First Nations communities, title lands, and Indian Reserves are not legal.
- Stay calm and do not be aggressive.
- If approached at a blockade or gate, maintain a physical distance of two metres and consider wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
- Note: The easiest way to document and report a blockade is by using the BCWF Conservation App. Take a photo or video using your app, select the “Block Access” icon. Add additional option informant in the spaces provided. Your report will go directly to the Conservation Officer Service as soon as you are in service.
If you are safely able to do so:
- Photograph and video the location. Any vehicle, structure, or gate that is blocking the road should be photographed.
- Record or write down any licence plate numbers or distinguishing features of vehicles.
- If the protesters are open to a conversation with you, ask, “Are you preventing me from using the road? I want to understand why you are preventing me from using the road? Do you represent an organization? Can you share your name and where you are from?” Photograph or video this interaction, if it can be done safely.
- Take notes of the interaction directly after it is over. Note the location, the individuals (with numbers, descriptions or identities, if known, license plates, etc.), and the content of any conversations. Also, note any impacts of being prevented from accessing the area and the number of people affected by the blockades.
- On a map, mark the location of the blockade and the location of the activities prevented from being undertaken.
- Contact the B.C. Wildlife Federation Office @ 1-888-881-2293 and let us know what is happening.
File a complaint with the local RCMP and Conservation Officer Service. Blockades must be reported to the RCMP and COS to ensure there is a formal record of the complaint.
- Provide copies of documents that describe how your legal rights are being interfered with such as permits, grants, licenses, contracts, including copies of documents.
The BCWF supports First Nations rights to restrict access to First Nations communities and reserves. The BCWF recognizes the risks associated with COVID-19 and all reasonable attempts, supported by the Provincial Health Officer and Health Authorities, to keep everyone in British Columbia safe and acknowledges the value in allowing British Columbians to recreate safely in their province.
The BCWF sees outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking, hunting and angling, as activities which support the mental and physical health of British Columbians. We successfully advocated for the inclusion of hunting and fishing in essential services and the opening of B.C. Parks.
At this time, the Provincial Health Officer has not expressed concerns related to outdoor recreation, which does not occur close to small communities. As a result, the BCWF will continue to support public access to public resources vigorously and will take steps to address attempts to restrict British Columbians from recreating in their home province.
The BCWF requests you send an email or letter to the Premier of B.C. firstname.lastname@example.org , leader of the opposition Andrew.wilkinson.MLA@leg.bc.ca , Minister Doug Donaldson, Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca , Opposition Critic MLA John Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development john.rustad.MLA@leg.bc.ca and your local MLA to express how important it is for B.C. residents to have access to public wilderness.
The BCWF is concerned that political inaction will have long-lasting negative effects, and believes this situation can be resolved, but your voice needs to be heard by provincial politicians.
Thank you for supporting the BC Wildlife Federation’s mission to ensure public access to recreational and outdoor activities, fish and wildlife resources and crown land