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Free firewood at Yukon campgrounds proves tempting for thieves

Firewood at Yukon campgrounds is free for campers, but some people are taking advantage and driving off with the wood, parks officials say.

Parks officials spray-painting logs bright orange to try to stop people from stealing them

Yukon parks officer Eric Bonnett spraypaints firewood orange at Wolf Creek Campground near Whitehorse. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Firewood at Yukon campgrounds is free for campers, but some people are taking advantage and driving off with the wood, parks officials say. 

"We have had reports of people backing their pickup trucks right to the wood bin and taking ever single stick of wood out," said parks officer Eric Bonnett. "In one instance, a person probably had three truck loads of wood stashed at their residence that we were able to recover."

Parks officials are painting firewood orange in an attempt to make the wood more visible and deter people from taking it home. 

Last year, the government tried a new technology to deter theft. Coded flakes — tiny pieces of paper that could identify the wood as government-owned, were put amongst the wood. But, the paper didn't adhere well to the firewood. So, this year, it's back to spray paint. 

Government wants to keep wood free

Tourists Craig and Nancy Burke, from Colorado, say they've camped all over the United States and Canada for the past three months. They say firewood provided free to campers is one of the best features of Yukon campgrounds. 

"That's something that you never see," said Nancy, "and always its available in every [campground]. That's very nice." 

It's something not lost on Bonnett. "Everywhere else you have to pay for it," he said, "we don't want to go in that direction here."

Bonnett says it costs around $300,000 each year to keep Yukon campgrounds stocked with firewood.

He says Environment Yukon is talking about what else can be done to deter theft. In the meantime, they're asking for the public's help identifying suspicious behaviour. 

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