An open letter to B.C. Minister of Environment Mary Polak regarding Revelstoke Conservation Officer issue
We are in receipt of your letter dated December 13, 2013, in which you have attempted to provide our club with the Ministry of Environment (MOE) rationale for not re-staffing a Conservation Officer (CO) in the community of Revelstoke. In your letter, you have cited the primary reason for your decision is that more incidents have been reported through the RAPP line in the Golden area than in the Revelstoke area; and that the Conservation Officer force is highly mobile and can attend emergencies as required.
Since receipt of your letter, both the Conservation Officer in Golden and the Revelstoke RCMP have telephoned our club to request assistance with three wildlife incidents. Two of the incidents involved moose – one hit by a vehicle and the other struck by a train, respectively, – and the other was a wolverine that was hit by a vehicle on the Trans-Canada. Direction was received by telephone from the Conservation Officer in Golden in all three incidents; at no time did a Conservation Officer arrive in Revelstoke to investigate any of these incidents. The travel time for a CO to attend from Golden would have been a minimum of two hours in the winter, perhaps even more time given the state of the highways, if open. Fortunately the location of the train-struck moose was close to Revelstoke, the weather was cool, and we were able to salvage the animal while still daylight.
Last week a cougar attacked and killed a dog in a residential area of Revelstoke. This “incident” occurred in a resident’s back yard. A follow-up trip to Revelstoke was made by a Conservation Officer from out of town to Revelstoke at least two days later.
Small children could easily have been present in the yard when the cougar attacked.
Last fall, the RCMP had to dispatch a black bear in town, hampered by some residents trying to take pictures while the RCMP dealt with the bear. The RCMP killed the animal as there was no Conservation Officer available to take responsibility for dealing with the issue.
It is not the RCMP mandate to manage fish and wildlife issues, nor are they trained for these duties. The MOE is abrogating their responsibility to the public by requesting that the RCMP and Rod & Gun Club conduct duties that are clearly proscribed to the MOE.
Referring back to your rationale for not providing a CO to Revelstoke: we submit it is not the numbers of incidents that should dictate allocation of resources; it is the severity of the issue – public safety – that is paramount. With regards to mobility of the Conservation Service: CO attendance has been zero with respect to the above recent incidents since the incumbent CO retired in December. The CO attended the cougar incident only, at least a couple of hours after the incident. This is an unacceptable delay given the obvious threat to human safety.
We require a Conservation Officer in Revelstoke immediately to deal with re-occurring public safety issues; with poaching issues; and other fish/wildlife offences; as well as routine fish and wildlife management issues. Further, the extensive time delays and complexity experienced in trying to coordinate effective response to wildlife incidents by an out-of-town CO with the RCMP and our club members is extremely ineffective and time-consuming. Wounded animals are needlessly suffering longer. The RCMP and the Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club are not surrogates for the MOE to use to manage wildlife in absentia from another community.
Additionally, the RAPP line reporting telephone mechanism is extremely dysfunctional as most residents are now cognizant that there is no CO in Revelstoke to deal with wildlife problems in a timely manner, even if reported.
We are aware that our MLA, Norm Macdonald, the City of Revelstoke, and other organizations and individuals in the Revelstoke Community have contacted you about the issue. Our club has initiated a petition in this regard which we will be sending you once we have reached our target goal of 500 signatures.
We are also encouraging all persons to call the RAPP line (1-877-952-7277) if they become aware of any known or suspected wildlife contraventions/issues.
We implore you to reconsider your decision before public safety is further compromised by even more serious human/wildlife interactions, and fish and wildlife management in our community is further eroded.
Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club