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Poaching, wildlife conflicts result when Conservation Officer staffing inadequate

Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club says Revelstoke-based conservation officer is stretched thin already, resulting in flagrant poaching

Editor,

An open letter to Hon. Mary Polak, B.C. Minister of Environment

The community of Revelstoke requests that a permanent field operational Conservation Officer (CO) be assigned to this area to ensure compliance and enforcement of the environmental laws of B.C. We are aware that the incumbent C.O. will be retiring soon. This is the third written request that our club has made to the ministry in two years, with no action by the ministry.

Two years ago the local C.O. was assigned to supervisory duties and spent the vast majority of time travelling and dealing with administrative needs of staff in a number of other communities. Within this time period Revelstoke no longer has timely, effective enforcement as complaints are now dealt with by staff from Golden.

A single investigation requires over three hours of highway travel, sometimes overnight stays, and associated costs of travel. A recent incident in our community resulted in the RCMP having to deal with and dispatch a black bear as the C.O. was not available to attend. With all due respect to the RCMP, while we believe their action was appropriate given the situation that arose, this type of encounter is not their responsibility and they have not been trained in wildlife management.

We believe this ineffective system of management has caused the escalation of complaints and lack of successful resolve over the past fishing and hunting seasons.

We are aware of flagrant disregard for hunting regulations, poaching, and trapping infractions that are occurring with minimal success in investigations or convictions.

We are aware of flagrant infractions such as: fishing immediately below the Mica Dam, fishing above the Bigmouth River cut-off zone line, fishing in the Columbia above the Trans-Canada Bridge in Revelstoke, as well as other fishing regulation infractions. In canvassing our Rod & Gun Club members and the public, there is no effective presence in the field by C.O.s for deterrence or investigation of incidents on our local lakes or in the forest.

We again request that a field Conservation Officer be assigned to Revelstoke on a permanent basis to put an end to these ongoing and intentional infractions. We need a full time C.O. that is able to provide a presence in the field, in the forest and on the water; for enforcement and compliance of the regulations as well as to deal with emergency situations as described in the black bear encounter noted above.

We would like to suggest the following options to alleviate the current situations:

The supervisory duties of the Conservation Officers should be located in an office that has two conservation officers so that one is always available to address complaints. Also, that the supervisory office be located in Revelstoke because of its remoteness to other offices, and the inability to call upon these other offices in a timely manner when two officers are required.

Thank you for addressing this serious deficiency in the enforcement of the Wildlife Act and Regulations.

Gary Krestinsky

President,

Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club

 

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