VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – How can one person patrol two million hectares all by themselves?
An environmental group says BC park ranger staffing has hit rock-bottom, with only seven full-time rangers monitoring 14 million hectares of protected areas.
“It’s the size of Denmark, Costa Rica, and Switzerland combined,” says Gwen Barlee with the Wilderness Committee.
“You don’t see this in any other jurisdiction in North America,” she adds.
Barlee says that leaves those full-timers with an impossible task.
“They’re there to perform a wide range of services, including making sure parks are safe for visitors, doing ecological monitoring, managing grizzly bear sanctuaries, ensuring that you don’t have ATVs going into parks or people acting like yahoos.”
She calls full-time rangers an endangered species.
“They’re actually more endangered than one of the most endangered species in all of Canada, which is the northern spotted owl. The northern spotted owl is only found in British Columbia in old-growth forests, and we’re down to just about 12 spotted owls in the wild… yet, here we have park rangers that are even more endangered than the northern spotted owl.”
The province does hire auxiliary rangers, but Barlee argues there aren’t enough, nor do they patrol year-round.
“In the past, you might get maybe 87 part-time rangers hired maybe five or six years ago for five to four months. What we’re hearing now is there are fewer of those auxiliary park rangers and sometimes they’re only being hired for up to eight weeks.”
Her group is calling on the province to hire dozens more full-timers, arguing every invested dollar will come back eight-fold from tourism.
“At least 50 full-time rangers on the ground in British Columbia — and that’s just a step in the right direction. We need far more than that.”