With spring, conflicts between people and wildlife increase, particularly as more and more people are enjoying being outside – but there are restrictions on what you can do in the great outdoors.
Since the Central Okanagan Land Trust (COLT) holds protective covenants on several wetlands and other special natural features in the region, its board would like to remind people it is illegal to possess wildlife and release non-native species into the environment.
“Kidnapping wildlife is not okay,” noted Sgt. Terry Myroniuk with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service for the North Okanagan Zone.
It’s an offence to be unlawfully in possession of wildlife without a permit, Myroniuk explained, saying you can’t take wildlife home, then release it a week later, either.
That includes tadpoles, frogs, turtles, fish and baby fawns. People sometimes make the mistake of believing because they’ve found a fawn alone, that its mother is not nearby, but that’s unlikely to be the case.
She will leave her fawn in safety to go and browse during the day, returning to nurse regularly and check on her little one.
It is also unlawful to harvest from provincial parks and illegal to take anything out of a park, whether provincial or regional – from plants to rocks to wildlife.
Myroniuk is also concerned about residents releasing non-native species such as pet rabbits or the red-eared slider turtle.
That species is not from B.C., and it out-competes the native painted turtle for habitat if people release those non-natives in the wild here.
It’s the same story when people release the contents of their fish tanks and aquariums into wild waters in B.C., with invasive species such as the goldfish, a non-native member of the carp family, out-competing native fish for aquatic habitat and food.
Myroniuk believes usually it’s simply a lack of awareness that results in people’s actions, but that doesn’t change the fact that turtle-napping is illegal, along with any other harassment of wildlife.
“It’s wonderful at this time of year to get out in nature. We are trying to conserve natural features in this region so there will always be beautiful natural places for people to enjoy,” said COLT president Gord Savage.
“However, it becomes even more important that all of us enjoy such places responsibly and leave them in as good or better condition than before we were there.”
For more information about the COLT or to support its work with a donation, go to the website www.coltrust.ca, and follow COLT on its Facebook and Instagram pages.