The Mounties in British Columbia say protesters breaching an injunction against blockades set up to prevent old-growth logging on southern Vancouver Island cut down 18 trees.
In a news release issued late Saturday, police say RCMP Chief Supt. John Brewer found the trees had been cut with chainsaws and laid across a road to block vehicle access.
The release says one person was also found to be smoking a cigarette surrounded by dry and tinder forest.
Brewer said in the statement he is “gravely concerned” that the felling of trees and smoking in areas where wildfires could start will endanger the safety of officers and activists.
The Fairy Creek Watershed area protesters known as the Rainforest Flying Squad did not immediately return a request for comment.
The RCMP also said 16 people were arrested, including one for allegedly assaulting a police officer, bringing the total number of people arrested to 494.
Last month, the B.C. government approved the request of three Vancouver Island First Nations and deferred logging of about 2,000 hectares of old-growth forest in the Fairy Creek and central Walbran areas for two years, but the protests are continuing.
The Rainforest Flying Squad say very little of the best old-growth forest remains in B.C., and the deferrals fall short of protecting what’s left.