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Two wilderness survivalists facing charges over Banff National Park survival challenge

Two men are facing charges under the Canada National Parks Act for the illegal catch and retention of Yellowstone Cutthroat trout and other fishing offences, hunting in a park, discharging a firearm in a park, illegal fire, damage/destroying natural objects and use of a drone without a permit.
Parks Canada
Parks Canada

BANFF – Two outdoor survivalists cast in the third season of the History Channel’s Alone TV series filmed in Argentina are facing several charges after camping and hunting illegally in the backcountry of Banff National Park for part of a 30-day survival challenge in the Canadian Rockies.

A lengthy joint investigation by Parks Canada and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service has led to several charges in relation to the ‘30 Day Survival Challenge in the Canadian Rockies’ YouTube video series featured on the accounts of two individuals.

Seven charges have been laid against American Zachary Fowler and six against Canadian Gregory Ovens, who took part in the backcountry survivalist trip in B.C. and Alberta, where they hunted, caught fish, ate plants like rare lilies and cut down trees to build tree forts or camps.

The only rule of the 30-day survival challenge was: “If you want to eat, you have to catch and cook it.”

Parks Canada officials say the charges under the Canada National Parks Act are for the illegal catch and retention of Yellowstone Cutthroat trout and other fishing offences, hunting in a park, discharging a firearm in a park, illegal fire, damage/destroying natural objects and use of a drone without a permit.

“Parks Canada cannot comment further, as the matter is before the courts,” said Justin Brisbane, a spokesperson for Banff National Park.

The lengthy investigation was prompted from a public report in July of 2019. The two-hour, 20-minute movie includes footage of Leman Lake, a high mountain lake located in the southern part of Banff National Park within the headwaters of the Spray River near the Alberta-B.C. border.

Fowler, who survived for 87 days in the wilderness of Patagonia, Argentina, in season 3 of Alone in 2016-17 and walked away with $500,000 as the winner, currently has an arrest warrant outstanding in relation to his charges.

Ovens, who survived with no human contact for 51 days before hypothermia caught up with him in the Patagonian wilderness in Alone, has had multiple court appearances to date with the next scheduled for Wednesday, February 2, in Calgary Regional Disposition Court.

At the start of the 30 Day Survival Challenge in the Canadian Rockies, Fowler said: “It’s criminal to have this much fun out in the woods.”

He adds: “There’s only one rule, if you want to eat, you’ve got to catch and cook it.”