Four people in total were issued notices to appear in court following two separate breaches of seasonal caribou area closures. | Supplied/Loni KlettlScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Court dates are what four people should have expected when they crossed the line into seasonal caribou area closures this past week, a red sign with “ACCESS PROHIBITED” in bold letters at its top. 

On Feb. 19, Parks Canada law enforcement responded to two separate breaches of people breaching into the forbidden zone. 

Park wardens were first notified of three hikers who had entered a seasonal caribou closure area via the Portal Creek access point. The wardens trekked in and found the group by early the following morning and escorted them out of the closed area. Each individual was issued an appearance notice to appear in court with multiple offences under the Canada National Parks Act. Charges had not been officially filed as of Friday.

Later that same day, a park warden observed two off-leash dogs running out of a seasonal caribou area closure at the Cavell Road access. Their owner followed shortly afterward. That individual was also issued an appearance notice to appear in court with offences under both the National Parks General Regulations and the National Parks of Canada Domestic Animals Regulations. Charges in this case also had not been officially filed as of Friday.

“All area closures are in place for a reason, including public safety,” read a statement from a Parks Canada media representative to the Fitzhugh.

Seasonal closures help Parks Canada to protect threatened caribou populations in Jasper National Park. Closures prevent users from making trails in the snow that wolves can use to prey on caribou more easily.

These closures are in place each winter from Nov. 1 to May 15. 

“Protected areas like national parks are key for caribou recovery,” Parks Canada added.

Failing to respect the closures can result in penalties and criminal charges for the offenders. 

Parks Canada reminded visitors to plan ahead by researching their route and identifying alternatives, checking the Important Bulletins webpage and obtaining all relevant permits. Main access points to areas that are closed are clearly gated and signed by Parks Canada.

Parks Canada also thanked those who made the report, encouraging anyone who sees concerning activity to record the activity and call the information in to Parks Canada Dispatch at 780-852-6155. 

“If safe to do so, take photos and record details of incidents including time of day, location, description and vehicle licence plates.”

More information can be found on the Jasper National Park Regulations webpage.

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 23, 2024 at 15:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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