A posting by a snowmobiler on social media reads, “Let’s break his legs. Lol,” and refers to Blue River heli-ski operator Mike Wiegele. A reply by another snowmobiler reads, “I haven’t seen a lynch mob in a while….”

A posting by a snowmobiler on social media reads, “Let’s break his legs. Lol,” and refers to Blue River heli-ski operator Mike Wiegele. A reply by another snowmobiler reads, “I haven’t seen a lynch mob in a while….”

Threats mar Eight Peaks discussion

A few posts on social media do not represent the views of most snowmobilers, says BRPP president

By Keith McNeill

An online discussion about Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing’s Eight Peaks proposal has turned ugly.

Two snowmobilers have threatened on social media to injure or kill the Blue River heli-ski operator.

READ MORE: Editorial regarding Eight Peaks discussion (Jan. 3, 2018)

Another threatened to sabotage helicopters working for Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, while a fourth suggested that snowmobilers ride on his heli-ski tenure.

In the first post, a snowmobiler from Whitecourt, Alberta said, “Let’s break his legs. Lol” (laugh out loud).

His posting received 12 “Likes” and one “Laugh” during its first 14 hours online.

A second snowmobiler, this time from Whistler, replied to the post by saying, “I haven’t seen a lynch mob in a while….”

When asked by the Times to clarify, the second snowmobiler said he did not intend his comment to be taken as a death threat.

He had just been observing the fact that there haven’t been a lot of lynch mobs lately, he said.

The second snowmobiler said that he would like to kick Mike Wiegele in the balls, however.

When told that Wiegele is over 80 years old and that there there would be no glory in kicking him in the balls, the second snowmobiler said, “You are clearly one-sided on this.”

READ MORE: Eight Peaks as part of regional economic development (2012)

In another posting, a snowmobiler from Sherwood Park, Alberta, wrote, “Let’s go f—k his helicopters,” and followed his message with an emoji of a helicopter and another of flames.

His posting was challenged by a person who apparently is a helicopter pilot (although not for the company that provides helicopters to MWHS) who replied, “That sounds like a threat, you aren’t threatening to sabotage Mike’s helicopters are you?”

In a fourth posting a snowmobiler from Terrace who now lives in Alberta wrote, “He has tenure? So what. We can ride there all we like and there is nothing he can do. If he tells u otherwise he is lying. I pay taxes even more so than this idiot personally and I have every right to use crown land. Try again.”

The posting in favor of snowmobiling on Wiegele’s heli-ski tenure collected six likes in its first 10 hours online.

The threatening posts were among nearly 90 comments made to a post on social media about MWHS’ Eight Peaks proposal by SledBlueRiver.com, which represents the Blue River Power Packers snowmobile club.

They in no way reflect the views of the snowmobile club or of the vast majority of snowmobilers, according to Albert Venor, BRPP president.

“Obviously, we value Mike Wiegele’s operation in Blue River and would not want anything bad to happen,” he said.

He and the other members of the club executive had not been aware of the threatening posts, said Venor.

They took them down immediately when told of them by the RCMP.

The BRPP posting was to encourage people to sign an online petition against MWHS’s Eight Peaks plan.

The petition against the plan was posted on Dec. 26 and, as of Dec. 31, had collected 17,000 names.

The Eight Peaks plan was proposed 15 years ago by Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing.

It calls for the creation of vertically-aligned cut-blocks that could be used as heli-ski runs on the eight mountains closest to Blue River.

This would result in more consistent and safer heli-skiing within a short distance of Blue River.

The petition against the plan was created by Michele Humphrey of the Bone Creek Wilderness Retreat. It is addressed to her and to Albert Venor, the BRPP president.

According to the petition, the original Eight Peaks plan was never shown to block public access to Crown land.

Now MWHS seeks to implement private leases on all eight peaks.

If the leases are granted, MWHS would be empowered to charge members of the public with trespassing if found within the lease areas, the petition states.

According to notes from a meeting held in November, 2016, between MWHS, BRPP and the Ministry, the areas are currently non-rideable by snowmobiles and non-skiable, because they are largely forested.

The meeting notes were taken by a forest district recreation resource officer and posted online by BRPP.

Of the eight peaks discussed, Duffy’s (located northeast of Blue River) has the most potential for conflict, as it touches the Redsands snowmobiling area. The priority for development likely would be Ptarmigan, Wilkins and then Duffy’s.

Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing general manager Matic Vecko said they would be communicating directly with those who have expressed concern about the Eight Peaks project.

The forests ministry has been asked for an update but no reply has been received.

 

A posting on social media reads, “Let’s go f__k his helicopters and is followed by an emoji of a helicopter and one of fire. A reply reads, “This sounds like a threat, you aren’t threatening to sabotage Mike’s helicopters, are you?” All names have been blanked out.

A posting on social media reads, “Let’s go f__k his helicopters and is followed by an emoji of a helicopter and one of fire. A reply reads, “This sounds like a threat, you aren’t threatening to sabotage Mike’s helicopters, are you?” All names have been blanked out.

A posting by a snowmobiler begins, “He has tenure? So what. We can ride there all we like and there is nothing he can do.”

A posting by a snowmobiler begins, “He has tenure? So what. We can ride there all we like and there is nothing he can do.”

Map shows the location of proposed heli-ski areas under Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing’s Eight Peaks plan as well as nearby snowmobiling areas. The inset map shows the extent of Wiegele’s tenure, which stretches from near Avola to north of Albreda.

Map shows the location of proposed heli-ski areas under Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing’s Eight Peaks plan as well as nearby snowmobiling areas. The inset map shows the extent of Wiegele’s tenure, which stretches from near Avola to north of Albreda.