Gregory Ovens faces six charges and over $100,000 in fines for alleged violations of regulations in Banff NP; (still: Ovens Rocky Mountain Bushcraft)
Gregory Ovens faces six charges and over $100,000 in fines for alleged violations of regulations in Banff NP; (still/Ovens Rocky Mountain Bushcraft)

‘30-Day Survival Challenge’: Canadian YouTuber Charged With Violating National Park Act

Parks Canada is charging B.C. native Gregory Ovens and American Zachary Fowler with unlawfully fishing, hunting, discharging firearms, lighting fires, damaging natural objects, and operating a drone inside Banff National Park.

You might know self-proclaimed survivalists Gregory Ovens and Zachary Fowler from The History Channel’s “Alone” or YouTube. The two met in 2016 while filming the survival reality series in Patagonia. Fowler won that season and walked away with a $500K cash prize.

Three years later, the pair began churning out wilderness survival content on YouTube. In that time, Ovens’ channel, Rocky Mountain Bushcraft, has garnered more than half a million subscribers and nearly 50 million views.

Now they’re facing legal action over violations that took place while filming their self-produced “30-Day Survival Challenge” in 2019. They’ll each have to dole out CAD 140,000 ($110,500) in fines if found guilty.

The allegations stem from a multiyear investigation undertaken by Parks Canada and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. That joint investigation was spurred by a public report from July 2019.

Ovens has appeared in court several times, including an appearance on February 9, 2022, in Calgary Regional Disposition Court. Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Fowler, who seems to be practicing a survivalist method known as hide-and-seek. Something tells me he won’t end up winning a stack of cash this time.

Parks Canada has issued an arrest warrant for reality show and YouTube survivalist, Zachary Fowler; (still: Ovens Rocky Mountain Bushcraft)
Parks Canada has issued an arrest warrant for the reality show and YouTube survivalist Zachary Fowler; (still/Ovens Rocky Mountain Bushcraft)

Gregory Ovens and Zachary Fowler: Alleged Violations

According to a statement from Parks Canada, Ovens faces six charges, and Fowler faces seven. Charges against both bushcraftsmen include damaging and destroying vegetation, discharging firearms, catching and retaining Yellowstone cutthroat trout, other fishing offenses, lighting fires, and using an unpermitted drone inside national park boundaries.

According to the Canada National Parks Act and Banff N.P. regulations, fishing within Canada’s national parks requires a specific fishing permit — provincial licenses do not suffice. Except for the two-trout limit that applies to Lake Minnewanka reservoir, possession of any fish caught in Banff park territory is a criminal offense.

The same regulations state that firearms and hunting are against park rules. The unpermitted use of drones within park boundaries is also strictly prohibited.

Ovens Responds to Allegations

Ovens is disputing the charges, citing a lack of public notice from the parks administration. “We’re not denying that we were there doing these things,” Ovens told CBC. “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.”

The bushcraft sensation recently compiled the 30-day survival series into a full-length documentary. It’s available on his YouTube channel, of course.

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Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.