A Revelstoke resident has been fined $1,000 after her off-leash dog chased a bear at the summit of Mt. Revelstoke National Park last summer.
Under the Canada National Parks Act, all domestic animals must be under control while within a park.
People who fail to do so can be charged in court, under the act.
“Parks Canada works very hard to prevent offences from happening through education, outreach and prevention strategies, but in some cases, when people do break the law, we need to take stronger action,” said Shelley Bird, communications office for Mt. Revelstoke National Park in an email.
“The enforcement actions taken in this case reflect that.”
In court Feb. 5, 2020, a Revelstoke woman pleaded guilty to an incident at Eva Lake where her dog chased a bear, and was then chased by the bear before the animal ran off.
She had two dogs off-leash, but only one chased the bear.
Part of the evidence used to charge the woman came from a witness and a wildlife monitoring camera capturing the dogs off-leash.
“When I did my trip plan initially it was my intention to keep the dogs on leash and I had gotten a special harnesses for them and everything,” she said.
“I had never brought my dogs into the park before.
“I was a little bit surprised at how much effort it was to control them.”
She said when she needed a break, she left the dogs off-leash.
She also let them off-leash at the Eva Lake campground as they were barking and getting tangled. She felt they were disturbing the other campers.
“The next day when continued on (after the bear encounter), was exploring new area, had intentions of keeping them on leash but the terrain ended up being quite challenging and I ended up having to take them off.”
She said this was the first time she took her dogs into the park, where she is a frequent visitor.
Crown counsel requested the sentence be a $500 fine and a one-year ban from visiting all national parks, saying there had to be a harshness to the sentence to denounce the behaviour.
“Human and wildlife safety is of the utmost importance to Parks Canada, and the agency takes action to promote coexistence between people and wildlife,” said Bird.
The Canada National Parks Act regulations require that dogs be kept on leash at all times in national parks.
Encounters between bears and off-leash dogs:
• pose a safety risk for visitors, their dog and the bear
• can impact the bear’s ability to meet its basic needs
• increase the risk of negative encounters between the bear and other visitors with or without dogs
According to data collected through the bear’s tracking collar, it was on the move for 12 hours after the encounter.
Crown counsel also stated as a result of this incident, the summit of Mt. Revelstoke National Park is closed to dogs indefinitely.
Judge Dennis Morgan decided to increase the fine amount but did not ban the woman from entering national parks.
“I think she is deterred by this whole process,” Morgan said.
The woman has until Sept. 1, 2020, to pay the fine.