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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Park-Related Acts (BC)

(current to 01 July 2016)

Note Re Application of the Park Act ('PA'), Protected Areas of British Columbia Act ('PABCA'), and the Ecological Reserve Act ('ERA')

Due their functional integration and common nature as protected land legislation, I am treating these three statutes together. For their purposes, 'wildlife' means "raptors, threatened species, endangered species, game or other species of vertebrates prescribed as wildlife under the Wildlife Act" (see that module) [Park, Conservancy and Recreation Area Regulation ('PCRA') Reg 1].

These laws bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • HABITAT
  • PROTECTION
  • HUNTING
The full current text of these statutes may be viewed at the British Columbia statute website.

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Table of Contents
1. Overview
(a) General
(b) Ecological Reserves
(c) Class A Parks
(d) Conservancies
(e) Designated Wildlife Areas
(f) Recreational Areas
2. Protections
(a) Overview
(b) All Parks, Conservancies and Recreation Areas
(c) Ecological Reserves
(d) All Parks
(e) Class A Parks
(f) Class B Parks
(g) Class C Parks
(h) Conservancies
(i) Recreational Areas (which may be located in any other types of protected land)
(j) Designated Wildland Areas (which may be included in other types of protected land)
3. Enforcement

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1. Overview

(a) General

The classification of protected lands under BC's several pieces of park (and related) legislation has resulted in some complexity. To start with, the provincial Cabinet may designate protected lands into the several types, which are listed below as they bear on wildlife or habitat protection [PA 5]. All of these, including the "wildlife and its habitats" within them, come under the authority of the Minister of Environment [PA 3(1)(c)].

(b) Ecological Reserves

Ecological Reserves are set aside to reserve Crown land for ecological purposes, including [Ecological Reserves Act ('ERA') 2]:
  • areas suitable for scientific research and educational purposes associated with studies in productivity and other aspects of the natural environment;

  • areas that are representative examples of natural ecosystems in British Columbia;

  • areas that serve as examples of ecosystems that have been modified by human beings and offer an opportunity to study the recovery of the natural ecosystem from modification;

  • areas where rare or endangered native plants and animals in their natural habitat may be preserved, and

  • areas that contain unique and rare examples of botanical, zoological or geological phenomena.
For these purposes [ERA 1]:
  • 'ecosystem "means a complete system composed of human beings, other animals and plants in a defined area, and with the soil and climate comprising their habitat in that area";

  • 'environment' "means all the external conditions or influences under which human beings, animals and plants live or are developed"; and

  • 'habitat' "means that kind of place or situation in which a human being, animal or a plant lives".
All ecological reserves are listed here (in both Schedules A and B):

Schedules A and B, Protected Areas of British Columbia Act.

(c) Class A Parks

Class A parks are "dedicated to the preservation of their natural environments for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public" [PA 5(3)].

All Class A parks are listed here (in both Schedules C and D):

Schedules C and D, Protected Areas of British Columbia Act.

(d) Conservancies

Conservancies are devoted to the following purposes [PA 5(3.1)]:
  • "the protection and maintenance of their biological diversity and natural environments",

  • "the preservation and maintenance of social, ceremonial and cultural uses of first nations",

  • "protection and maintenance of their recreational values", and

  • "to ensure that development or use of their natural resources occurs in a sustainable manner" consistent with the above purposes. For these purposes, 'natural resources' "means land, water and atmosphere, their mineral, vegetable and other components, and includes the flora and fauna on and in them" [PA 1].
All Conservancies are listed here (in both Schedules E and F):

Schedules E and F, Protected Areas of British Columbia Act.

(e) Designated Wildlife Areas

Any of the above protected areas may also have within them 'designated wildland areas', which are "a roadless area in a park, conservancy or recreation area that is ... retained in a natural condition for the preservation of its ecological environment and scenic features" [PA 1].

(f) Recreational Areas

Recreational areas may be located in any of the categories of protected land listed above.


2. Protections

(a) Overview

Stemming from the complexity of the several classifications of protected land (see s.1 above) are differing levels and types of wildlife and habitat protection. The following subsections list in turn these protections as they apply to the different classifications of protected land. For these purposes, 'natural resources' means "land, water and atmosphere, their mineral, vegetable and other components, and includes the flora and fauna on and in them" [PA 1].

(b) All Parks, Conservancies and Recreation Areas

The following activities are prohibited in parks, conservancies, recreation areas [PCRA Regs 8,18-20,29-30,32; Reg 364/97, s.1]:
  • creating or causing a deliberate or unnecessary disturbance;

  • off-trail horse riding (or riding other draught or riding animal);

  • dogs are banned from posted sites and some Regulation-specified areas, but in any event are prohibited from causing annoyance and damage, creating injury or nuisance, and from chasing and molesting wildlife;

  • all other animals are prohibited from running at large, and in the case of cattle from grazing and browsing;

  • discharging firearms, bows and crossbows except in open season and with required permits and Wildlife Act licenses;

  • feeding wildlife;

  • damaging, destroying, possessing and removing from the park any natural resource, except where wildlife are taken as otherwise authorized under the PA and/or the Wildlife Act.
(c) Ecological Reserves

The following prohibitions apply to ecological reserves [Ecological Reserves Regulation ('ER Regs') ss.1,2,8,9]:
  • entering an ecological reserve for purposes inconsistent with the Ecological Reserves Act ('ERA');

  • prospecting for minerals;

  • cutting timber;

  • grazing domestic animals;

  • camping;

  • lighting fires;

  • trapping or molesting animals;

  • building roads or trails;

  • using motorized vehicles;

  • removing plants, animals or material;

  • introducing any plant or animal species without the written permission of the administrator;

  • depositing, discharging, or emitting sewage, waste materials, contaminants or any other substance without a permit.
The following activities are prohibited in these ecological reserves: Reg 364/97, Ecological Reserve Schedule [PCRA Regs 8,18-20,29-30,32; Reg 364/97, s.1]:
  • creating or causing a deliberate or unnecessary disturbance;

  • off-trail horse riding (or riding other draught or riding animal);

  • dogs are banned from posted sites and some Regulation-specified areas, but in any event are prohibited from causing annoyance and damage, creating injury or nuisance, and from chasing and molesting wildlife;

  • all other animals are prohibited from running at large, and in the case of cattle from grazing and browsing;

  • discharging firearms, bows and crossbows except in open season and with required permits and Wildlife Act licenses;

  • feeding wildlife;

  • damaging, destroying, possessing and removing from the park any natural resource, except where wildlife are taken as otherwise authorized under the PA and/or the Wildlife Act.
(d) All Parks

A person must not carry on, in any park, any activity that will restrict, prevent or inhibit the use of the park for its designated purpose [PA 12(3)].

The Wildlife Act (see that module) applies in parks, conservancies and recreation areas [PA 2(4)].

Natural resources, including fish and wildlife, in any class of park shall not be "sold, removed, destroyed, disturbed, damaged or exploited" unless the Minister is of the opinion that such activities will not hinder the designated purposes of the park (see s.1 above) [PA 9(7),12(3)].

Park use permits may be issued respecting any park or conservancy for scientific research that furthers public policy respecting the purpose of the protected area, public health and safety, and environmental assessments [PA 9.3(2)].

Permits are required for anyone may "construct, install, erect or place any structure, improvement or work of any nature in a park, conservancy or recreation area" [PA 13].

Appropriate park use permits are required before a person can engage in any of the following industrial activities in a park, a conservancy or a recreational area [PA 16]:
  • use or occupy land for a log storage area, mill site, road, right of way, disposal area for tailings or waste or any other industrial purpose;

  • obtain any surface right or right to the use or occupancy of the surface of any land (renting and purchasing require permits pursuant to PA 25);

  • exercise any right under the Mineral Tenure Act, the Coal Act or the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act;

  • flood or impound, divert or distribute water;

  • establish or carry on any work or improvement or any commercial or industrial activity or enterprise.
In addition to holding the appropriate license and/or permit under the Wildlife Act (see that module), Park Act permits are required for the hunting or trapping of fur-bearing animals in a park, conservancy, ecological reserve or recreation area [PCRA Reg 5].

(e) Class A Parks

Other than fish and wildlife taken in accordance with the Wildlife Act (see that module) or those "stalked or pursued for observation or for photographic or study purposes", natural resources in a Class A or C park "must not be granted, sold, removed, destroyed, damaged, disturbed or exploited except as authorized by a valid and subsisting park use permit". Such a permit shall not be issued unless "it is necessary for the preservation or maintenance of the recreational values of the park involved" [PA 9(1,2)].

(f) Class B Parks

Other than fish and wildlife taken in accordance with the Wildlife Act (see that module) or those "stalked or pursued for observation or for photographic or study purposes", natural resources in a Class B park "must not be granted, sold, removed, destroyed, damaged, disturbed or exploited except as authorized by a valid and subsisting park use permit. Such a permit shall not be issued unless "in the opinion of the minister, to do so is not detrimental to the recreational values of the park involved" [PA 9(3,4)].

(g) Class C Parks

Other than fish and wildlife taken in accordance with the Wildlife Act (see that module) or those "stalked or pursued for observation or for photographic or study purposes", natural resources in a Class A or C park "must not be granted, sold, removed, destroyed, damaged, disturbed or exploited except as authorized by a valid and subsisting park use permit". Such a permit shall not be issued unless "it is necessary for the preservation or maintenance of the recreational values of the park involved" [PA 9(1,2)].

Note that the PCRA Regs do not apply to Class C parks [PCRA Reg 2].

(h) Conservancies

The Wildlife Act (see that module) applies in parks, conservancies and recreation areas [PA 2(4)].

Except for fish and wildlife taken in accordance with the Wildlife Act, the sale, removal, destruction, damaging, disturbing, exploitation, development, improvement or utilization of natural resources in a conservancy is prohibited without an appropriate park use permit [PA 9(6.1)].

Natural resources, including fish and wildlife, in a conservancy shall not be "sold, removed, destroyed, disturbed, damaged or exploited" unless the Minister is of the opinion that such activities will not hinder the designated purposes of the conservancy (see s.1 above) [PA 9(9),5(3.1)]. Commercial logging, mining, and hydro power generation are activities for which permits may not be issued under this restriction [PA 9(10)].

Park use permits may be issued respecting any park or conservancy for scientific research that furthers public policy respecting the purpose of the protected area, public health and safety, and environmental assessments [PA 9.3(2)].

Permits are required for anyone may "construct, install, erect or place any structure, improvement or work of any nature in a park, conservancy or recreation area" [PA 13].

Appropriate park use permits are required before a person can engage in any of the following industrial activities in a park, a conservancy or a recreational area [PA 16]:
  • use or occupy land for a log storage area, mill site, road, right of way, disposal area for tailings or waste or any other industrial purpose;

  • obtain any surface right or right to the use or occupancy of the surface of any land (renting and purchasing require permits pursuant to PA 25);

  • exercise any right under the Mineral Tenure Act, the Coal Act or the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act;

  • flood or impound, divert or distribute water;

  • establish or carry on any work or improvement or any commercial or industrial activity or enterprise.
In addition to holding the appropriate license and/or permit under the Wildlife Act (see that module), Park Act permits are required for the hunting or trapping of fur-bearing animals in a park, conservancy or recreation area [PCRA Reg 5].

(i) Recreational Areas (which may be located in any other types of protected land)

The Wildlife Act (see that module) applies in parks, conservancies and recreation areas [PA 2(4)].

Except for fish and wildlife taken in accordance with the Wildlife Act, the sale, removal, destruction, damaging, disturbing, exploitation, development, improvement or utilization of natural resources in a recreation area is prohibited without Ministerial approval [PA 9(6)].

Permits are required for anyone may "construct, install, erect or place any structure, improvement or work of any nature in a park, conservancy or recreation area" [PA 13].

Appropriate park use permits are required before a person can engage in any of the following industrial activities in a park, a conservancy or a recreational area [PA 16]:
  • use or occupy land for a log storage area, mill site, road, right of way, disposal area for tailings or waste or any other industrial purpose;

  • obtain any surface right or right to the use or occupancy of the surface of any land (renting and purchasing require permits pursuant to PA 25);

  • exercise any right under the Mineral Tenure Act, the Coal Act or the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act;

  • flood or impound, divert or distribute water;

  • establish or carry on any work or improvement or any commercial or industrial activity or enterprise.
In addition to holding the appropriate license and/or permit under the Wildlife Act (see that module), Park Act permits are required for the hunting or trapping of fur-bearing animals in a park, conservancy or recreation area [PCRA Reg 5].

(j) Designated Wildland Areas (which may be included in other types of protected land)

Except for fish and wildlife taken in accordance with the Wildlife Act, the sale, removal, destruction, damaging, disturbing and exploitation of natural resources in a designated wildland area is prohibited [PA 9(5)].


3. Enforcement

The Minister may appoint park officers for purposes of enforcement of the PA [PA 4(1)], and park rangers [PA 4(2)] for the purposes of enforcement of the PA, the Wildlife Act (see that module) and a range of related legislation [PCRA Reg 56].

Park officers have a range of police-type and Order authorities respecting parks, conservancies or recreational areas, including the authority to [PA 17]:
  • enter on and inspect any land, road, structure or work;

  • order the repair, alteration, improvement, evacuation or removal of or addition to a structure or work;

  • order any person to cease or refrain from an activity that is dangerous to life or property or detrimental to the public interest; and

  • demand identification and disclosure of a person's activities and intentions.
The Parks Act contains a broad offence provision under which most violations of the legislation can be prosecuted [PA 28].




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