Vancouver Island’s backcountry may be a haven for explorers, but it comes with its risks.

With this said, conservation officers teamed up with BC Parks and BC RCMP to form a joint enforcement patrol near Mount Washington last week.

In an effort to keep snowmobilers safe and informed, the trio hit the slopes to promote the safe and lawful use of snowmobiles.

Officers also addressed recent reports of unlawful off-road vehicle use, and trespassing on private property.

According to the Conservation Officer Service (COS), “Only one of 12 snowmobiles encountered was in full compliance.” And, it says just one person spoke confidently about snow stability and avalanche hazards.

The COS is now reminding all snowmobilers: “it’s important to do your research before heading out,” adding that “emergency preparedness is key to safe backcountry travel.”

With COVID still in full swing, many are venturing into the backcountry unprepared, or with little experience. This has led to an uptick in calls for Search and Rescue crews.

Last month, two snowmobilers in the Mount Adrian area were found safe and sound after an extensive search by Campbell River Search and Rescue (CRSAR).

READ MORE: Search and rescue crews find missing snowmobilers near Mount Adrian

The search mission came just as CRSAR reported a record number of call-outs in 2020.

However, Campbell River is not alone in higher call volume; SAR groups all over the province experienced a jump last year. CRSAR operation manager Grant Cromer credits a large portion of the calls to COVID ‘cabin fever.’