While hunter numbers were down in the Cariboo-Chilcotin during the hunting season this fall conservation officers were kept busy with more calls, Sgt. Jeff Tyre said.
Between Sept. 1 and Dec. 10, they dealt with 249 investigations, issuing 108 violations tickets and laying 10 Criminal Code charges.
“In addition we have several large files that are still being investigated that are likely to result in reports to Crown Counsel where we will recommend numerous charges to be laid under the Wildlife Act and the Criminal Code,” Tyre said, noting during the fall the COS dealt with a total of 418 human wildlife conflict reports.
Officers are also finishing up several smaller files that will result in additional violation tickets and warnings being issued for offences committed during the hunting season, Tyre added.
Tyre credited the Williams Lake Tribune for helping the COS solve two hunting files where the public was asked for help to solve the investigations into an illegal bow hunt of a deer and an illegally shot buck and the removal of its antlers.
“Numerous tips were received through the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line 1-877-952-7277 and both investigations were solved almost immediately upon the printing of both stories,” Tyre said. “One investigation resulted in several charges being laid and a significant seizure of meat followed.”
Of the 249 investigations dealt with by the COS, 156 of those files were phoned or e-mailed to the RAPP Line, he added.
“We would like to extend a great big “thank you” to the public for taking the time and effort to get those reports to us,” Tyre said.
“The importance of your extra eyes and ears while you are out enjoying the special place we live in cannot be overstated.”
Tyre said the COS also worked on two files with the RCMP related to First Nations night hunting near Williams Lake.
“One file has already been put forward to Crown with several charges being approved against each suspect and another file will be forwarded to Crown within the next month.”
The Cariboo-Chilcotin Zone covers Williams Lake, Quesnel, 100 Mile House and Bella Coola, and is served by seven full-time officers, one part-time officer, one sergeant and one inspector.
A significant amount of effort was put into human wildlife conflict work in the Bella Coola Valley and between mid-September through November, with officers taking weekly shifts in the valley.
“Although it may not seem like much on face value, the district offices take a 33 to 50 per cent staffing cut while that officer is away and unavailable to assist with investigations and human wildlife conflict files, usually for five or more consecutive days,” Tyre said.
Williams Lake and 100 Mile were relatively quiet dealing with bear conflicts, while Quesnel was kept busy with bear calls.
This allowed Williams Lake and 100 Mile officers to be more proactive in patrolling than in past years while the Quesnel Officers were often tied up dealing with the very active conflict bears.
“Now that winter has settled in officers will be switching gears and concentrating efforts on checking predator hunters, trapline checks and putting a big focus on checking ice fisherman,” Tyre said. “Hope to see everyone out enjoying the exciting place in which we live.”