Another incident of illegally poached wood on public lands in the Cowichan region has been reported.
Residents close to Shawnigan Beach Estates, in the Shawnigan Lake area, have called the province’s Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hot line to report possible tree poaching on Crown land adjacent to the housing development.
They told the authorities that about 12 trees, mostly Douglas fir and some arbutus trees, were cut down by a man with a chainsaw over a period of a few days in July.
Signs stating “Stop cutting down our trees! We know who you are” have shown up in the cut area since then, presumably to try to scare off the poacher.
A statement from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said a natural resources officer inspected the area and, while the officer didn’t come across anyone actively cutting, the officer did find a number of dead and downed trees that were bucked into rounds, which is consistent with firewood cutting.
“Conditions are extremely dry, and using a chainsaw in a forested area is a high-risk activity,” the statement said.
The Cowichan Valley is in a Stage 4 drought.
“We ask that the public report such activities to the BC Wildfire Service *5555 or call 1-800-663-5555. It’s urgent that we prevent wildfires caused by a spark-producing tool, such as chainsaws, during the extreme weather conditions.”
A number of tree-poaching incidents have been reported in the Municipality of North Cowichan’s 5,000-hectare municipal forest reserve in recent months.
Many speculated that the poachers were trying to take advantage of the high price of lumber that is due to shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said in April that anyone found unlawfully cutting down trees in the forest reserve could face criminal charges for the theft of municipal assets, as well as trespassing.