Illegal backcountry trash dumpers ticketed by the dozens, says Okanagan forest watchdog

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A group of volunteers in B.C.'s Interior says dozens of illegal garbage dumpers have been caught and ticketed, thanks to the installation of motion-activated cameras in local "hot spots."

In a statement Monday, the Okanagan Forest Task Force said upwards of 60 individuals have been ticketed for illegally dumping garbage in the Okanagan backcountry.

In 2017, the Okanagan group put up trail cameras to catch the illegal dumpers in the act. The cameras capture images and video when they pick up movement on the trail. Most often, its wildlife that triggers the cameras, said organizer Kane Blake. But he said, increasingly, humans are the culprits triggering them.

"We have encountered some scenarios where a single "hot spot" will have seen three illegal dumping violations in a week," Kane said.

Ron Lancour/OFTF/Facebook
Ron Lancour/OFTF/Facebook

In a single week, some cameras capture upwards of 3,500 photos, which are then analyzed for evidence and turned over to conservation officers who determine if there is enough information to prosecute individuals, the statement said.

Community clean-ups

Video captured during a livestreaming event shows teams of volunteers using heavy cranes to clean up trash, including, at times, abandoned vehicles and trailers.

"The volunteer turnout was amazing in 2020, even with COVID guidelines in place," said Blake.

Since its creation in 2016, the task force has cleaned up more than 300,000 pounds of illegally dumped garbage, the statement said.

According to B.C.'s Environmental Management Act, people convicted of illegally dumping waste can face fines up to $1 million as well as jail time.