Ian Stewart/Yukon News file Starting this season, campers will only be allowed to leave a site unattended for a maximum of 24 hours or risk a $200 fine.

Yukon Parks tightens rules to crack down on campsite squatters

Campers were previously allowed to leave occupied campsites unattended for up to 72 hours

Yukon campsite hoggers, beware — this season, you’ll only be allowed to leave your site unattended for a maximum of 24 hours unless you want to risk a $200 fine.

Following up on its proposal from last year, the Yukon government announced in a press release April 16 that it will be implementing new 24-hour rule starting in May to address concerns about the fairness of people “holding” campsites without actually being there.

The new time limit and fine are a dramatic change from the previous rules, which allowed campers to be absent from their campsites for up to 72 hours with a $50 fine for non-compliance. This meant that, for example, someone could show up to a site Tuesday to claim a site, leave, and then return to actually begin camping Friday, leaving campers actually present at the campground during the week out of luck.

Yukon Parks acting director Carrie Mierau said she hopes the increased fine will serve as an actual deterrent to would-be absentee campers, and that park rangers and officers will be focusing on educating campers before cracking down.

“I would definitely say that education and compliance is our goal,” she said, adding that Yukon Parks will be posting signs, running a social media campaign and handing out leaflets to inform campers of the new 24-hour rule. “We’re not looking to go hardline … but repeat offenders, non-compliance, we will be using the tools that we have to enforce the regulations and they do include ticketing and a new increase to the fine.”

To help with education and compliance, Mireau said that officer-ranger teams may increase their patrols at campgrounds this season to look for compliance and, if necessary, hit offenders with tickets and evictions.

Under the old rules, officials only handed out about five tickets per year over campsite absenteeism, Mierau said, which suggested that the “72 hours that you could leave a campsite unattended and still occupy it was much too long.”

“Seventy-two hours is a long time to be away and have your stuff occupying a site whereas 24 hours is meant to suggest to people, you know, ‘We know why you’re camping there, go, recreate, hike, go boating, go fishing, but make sure you’re also camping at this site and using it for its intended purpose,” she said.

Twelve of the Yukon’s 42 campgrounds will open May 11, with the rest opening May 18.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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