British Columbia is taking steps to protect big game animals that survived summer wildfires in the southeastern part of the province.
Hunting regulations have been changed to give wildlife a better chance against hunters in areas that have been denuded of vegetation or criss-crossed by firebreaks.
Motor vehicles used by hunters are now banned annually between Sept. 1 and June 30, in five fire perimeters around the extreme southeast corner of B.C., including the regions of White River, Linklater and Lamb creeks, Soowa Mountain and Island Pond.
The Forests Ministry says the ban will remain in effect until access and visibility return to a state where wildlife is less vulnerable.
The newly built fire guards, along with industrial roads and guards built during previous fires, give hunters on all-terrain vehicles greater access to Kootenay-area habitats that previously could only be reached on foot.
Charred undergrowth and better sight lines also offer an advantage to hunters in some of the 904 square kilometres of bush the BC Wildfire Service says burned this summer.
"While wildfires can have beneficial impacts on wildlife, wildfires have also increased the vulnerability of hunted big game wildlife," the ministry says in a news release.
As part of its recovery efforts in the region, the ministry says it is prioritizing areas for reforestation and wildlife habitat restoration.