Forestry workers in Jordan River are increasingly finding themselves caught in the crossfires of target shooters.
“My biggest concern is that someone is going to get killed or injured,” said Mike Hicks, the Capital Regional District director for the Juan de Fuca area.
“I’m aware that some loggers have had to call their head office for help because they were in the trees working and people were shooting in the same area not knowing the workers were there.”
Hicks said many people like to try out their guns and practice shooting near Jordan River, due to open space. Jordan River residents approached the Environment Ministry in 2016 and got a boundary expansion restricting people from shooting firearms close by.
Hicks said the issue now isn’t that people are going there and shooting their guns for sport, it is that people are shooting in restricted areas and at logging equipment, putting workers in danger as well as the public who may be out walking or hiking.
He added that people have also been taking illegal, automatic weapons into the area.
Another issue Hicks pointed out is that shooters are leaving their shells behind and littering in the area, as well as shooting at targets that can be hazardous to wildlife.
Last summer there was a three-hectare fire near Jordan River that was believed to be started by people with firearms, shooting at a “flare target.”
“People need to be more careful where they fire their weapons, what they are firing at, and where they leave all their casings,” Hicks said. “If we caught someone leaving their shell casings we could fine them up to $10,000.”
Conservation officer Scott Norris said unfortunately the issue of people leaving their shells behind is a problem all over the Island and the province.
“It’s definitely a concern in many areas, as thousands of plastic and brass shells are left behind,” Norris said. “Not everyone wants to be part of a gun club. A lot of people choose to go out and target practice in the bush, and there’s no law against it, but we would like it if people would take their garbage with them.”
Norris also said the person who has a firearm is responsible for every shot they take, so they need to be aware of their surroundings, understand where the closed areas are, and follow typical firearm safety protocols.
Hicks said the main problem is some people not being mindful of others or of nature while out practicing shooting.
“Like come on. Just don’t use machine guns, stop shooting at logging equipment, and clean up after yourselves. Don’t be a jerk is what it boils down to,” Hicks said. “You don’t have to go hurt nature or endanger people when you’re supposed to be having fun.”
He said hopefully people will get wiser, or the ultimate punishment would be to close down access to Crown land.
“A few people are going to ruin it for everyone if they don’t grow up and be more responsible, and that’s the last thing I want,” Hicks said.
If you hear or see someone shooting in a restricted area, contact RCMP at 250-642-5241.