Access to Chilko-Newton Road, south of Henry’s Crossing in the Chilcotin, will be closed to the public during salmon spawning season from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, 2022.
The Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship and Ministry of Forests made the announcement earlier this week, noting the closure is necessary due to increased grizzly bear activity in the upper Chilko River area.
“The Tŝilhqot’in Nation and the Province are jointly restricting public access to the upper Chilko corridor while a management plan is being written for the area. This closure is to mitigate the risks of members of the public coming into close contact with grizzly bears in the area,” noted the ministries.
The closure of the road will be monitored and enforced under the BC Wildlife Act. Penalties and fines for violators will be issued.
Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse told Black Press Media that while the grizzly bear population around the world may be in danger, that’s not the case in the Chilcotin.
”It’s to the point where they are over-populated now,” Alphonse said, noting it is the same for black bears and also wolves in the Chilcotin before a recent cull brought those numbers down.
“The balance is not right.”
The Chilko-Newton Road is a frontage road along the Chiko River where he has seen tourists exit their vehicles in order to get photos of grizzlies feeding on salmon - something he strongly warns against.
“It’s just not safe.”
Alphonse suggested a grizzly hunt should be reopened to help manage the population.