British Columbia

B.C. campfire ban violators intimidating conservation officers who try to stop them

Conservation officers are facing confrontation and intimidation from campers in B.C. who are determined to have a campfire despite a ban over much of the province.

Violators are often argumentative and sometimes intimidating, conservation officer says

B.C. Conservation officers say a concerning number of campers in B.C. are flouting the province-wide campfire ban.

Conservation officers are facing confrontation and intimidation from campers in B.C. who are determined to have a campfire despite a ban across much of the province..

Sixteen violation tickets were issued on Sunday night in the Sea to Sky region between Pemberton and Lions Bay alone, B.C. Conservation Officer Tim Schumacher told CBC News Wednesday.

"Officers encountered people who were argumentative and believed they could have a fire safely," Schumacher said.

He said it was an unfortunate attitude as the region is so dry and just one spark from a campfire could be devastating.

While not all confrontations were alcohol-related, he said, concern is mounting over the level of intimidation being used.

Zero tolerance

"A gentlemen [on Sunday] picked up a shotgun from his vehicle and put it on the table beside him," Schumacher said.

The man told the conservation officers that the gun was loaded, but even though that turned out to be false, Schumacher says personal safety is a concern for officers out in the wild where people have knives and guns with them.

"I think that often there is an attempt to intimidate'"

Schumacher said that no camper in the province can claim they are unaware of the ban, as it's been widely reported across the media and local signage is plentiful.

"On site we have zero tolerance," he said, noting that a violation ticket is $345 for each person around the fire, and those found in contravention could be fined a $10,000 administration fee.

If a case goes to court, there's a potential for a $100,000 and a year in jail, and if a camper is found to have caused a wildfire, they can also be liable for all the costs associated with extinguishing it.

With files from Lisa Johnson

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