Enforcing the rules that protect people and the environment
There’s something extra special about spending time outdoors in winter. Snowmobilers, hunters and trappers understand the value of spending time in nature experiencing the hidden parts of the Island that many never have the opportunity to see. Whether it’s skiing, ice skating, or snowmobiling, a winter day in Prince Edward Island can be both invigorating and peaceful.
Conservation officers patrol Island seashores, farmlands and wild places by land, air and water to preserve the environment and enforce the laws that keep people safe. Conservation Officer Wade MacKinnon is a hunter himself, and knows the importance of safe practices and why the rules he enforces benefit everyone.
“Ethical and law-abiding hunters and trappers play an important role in environmental preservation. They value the land and they follow the rules because they’ve experienced the thrill of a fair chase. The last thing I want to do is be in a situation where I have to take someone’s pastime away,” said MacKinnon.
Currently, there is not a lot of snow on the ground so Islanders haven’t had much of a chance to get their snowmobiles out. Still, many people are out on ATVs year round and, with snow expected in the coming weeks, we can expect snowmobiles will soon be hitting the Confederation Trail.
Off-highway vehicles must be registered and you are responsible for knowing where it’s legal to ride your vehicle. The rules are in place to protect valuable farmland from damage, protect private property, and protect wetlands and watercourses. Riders must hold a valid driver’s license to cross a highway, for their own safety and the safety of drivers.
Whether on a snowmobile or ATV, it’s illegal to travel with a loaded gun. Firearms must be unloaded and stowed properly. It is also dangerous, illegal and un-sporting to shoot from any type of vehicle, or chase animals with any type of vehicle.
Regardless of the vehicle, impaired driving is a no-no. Operating any vehicle impaired is a risk to the driver, the public, and wildlife. And, it’s illegal. Operating an off-highway vehicle while impaired has the same consequences as a car or truck, there may be jail time, loss of license, fines and your off-highway vehicle will be seized.
MacKinnon added, “it seems like a no-brainer but last year, we did have a case where two young people were found with firearms while under the influence. This is totally unacceptable. It will result in firearms being seized, fines, loss of hunting privileges and a very public conviction.”
Conservation officers are fully trained law enforcement personnel who have additional education in environmental management. They respond to public complaints, patrol the Confederation Trail, enforce fishing, hunting and trapping regulations, and work with landowners to prevent environmental issues, all with one goal in mind – protecting Prince Edward Island’s natural spaces.