YouTube Survivalists Facing Criminal Charges Over Illegal Activities in Banff National Park

by Madison Miller

National parks are sacred lands and two men are now facing the consequences of tampering with natural and regulated beauty. Gregory Ovens and Zachary Fowler, popular TV and YouTube stars, are now facing several charges for a YouTube series they filmed in 2019.

Videos show the pair collecting rare plants, fishing, and hunting at Banff National Park. As many people know, these types of activities are actively forbidden within the borders of a national park.

According to Backpacker, these two are facing more than $100,000 each in fines from these illegal actions on national park grounds. There is also an active arrest warrant issued for Fowler. As for the charges, there are many Ovens and Fowler have collected. Some include hunting and discharging a firearm, illegally making fires, using a drone without a permit, damaging natural objects, and catching Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Survivalists from ‘Alone’ Challenge Video

You may recognize these two survivalists from when they competed on the survival show “Alone.” The duo met in 2016 after filming in Patagonia for the third season of the History Channel series. Ovens was able to survive 51 days before leaving due to hypothermia. Meanwhile, Fowler made it 87 days and won the season and the $500,000 prize that goes with it.

The two men decided to film a 30-day survival challenge to upload to YouTube from Banff National Park. In order to survive, the two hunted, fished, and did other prohibited activities. According to an interview with CBC, the two have admitted they would cross into Leman Lake within the park with their fishing licenses. However, they are arguing that they were unaware the park had switched to catch-and-release a couple of years back. Ovens plans to dispute the charges, citing a lack of communication.

“We’re not denying that we were there doing these things. I mean, it’s obvious in the videos, but it’s just the principle that they don’t do anything to let the public know when they change the rules,” Ovens said to the news outlet.

It’s hard to deny anything related to these criminal charges. The two-hour movie quickly got uploaded to YouTube where it got a total of 12 million views. That’s a lot of witnesses. Someone contacted Parks Canada regarding these violations, leading to a full-fledged investigation.

Felony Charges for Centuries-Old Tree

Meanwhile, last September two people got charged after cutting down a black walnut tree in northeastern Ohio. Todd Jones and his sister, Laurel Hoffman, are getting grand theft charges. They are also facing falsifications, both of which could land them 18 months in prison.

Prosecutors are saying this tree was not on his property. Instead, it belongs to the Cleveland Metroparks.

According to The New York Times, this is an agency that looks over 24,000 acres of trails and parks. Officials are estimating that the tree in question was about 250 years old.

“We will not ignore people trespassing onto park property and illegally cutting down irreplaceable trees for profit,” the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Michael O’Malley, said regarding the crime.