A report from the Conservation Officer Service shows 44 administrative sanctions and279 tickets issued, and an incredible $3.5 million in tickets and convictions, all within the first quarter of 2016, the most recent figures available.
“It’s not getting better and it seems to be getting worse,” Conservation Officer Terry Myroniuk told InfoNews in Kelowna, who noted that the lack of compliance seen in the North Okanagan is “disturbing.”
The data reviewed by InfoNews shows that tickets and sanctions were handed down in response to violations from all areas, including hunting and trapping, fishing, allowing dogs to chase wildlife, or using vehicles or drones to harass wildlife. A large sum conviction to a company was included in this for violations of the Environmental Management Act and the federal Fisheries Act.
Myroniuk told InfoNews that in one patrol, only 20 percent of the people he saw were compliant with required laws or regulations.
“It’s not just a lack of awareness, but a willful choice not to comply,” he said. “It’s frustrating.”
Though Myroniuk focused on reminding people that the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line is confidential, he did not address a more political issue – the number of Conservation Officers on the ground, able to investigate and enforce laws, let alone offer education and prevention.
The Fur-Bearers don’t always agree with the decisions made by Conservation Officers, and has protested some of the service’s policies. But they are the individuals tasked with enforcing laws and protecting wildlife, and from 2001 to 2012, the number of officers in the field dropped by about 37 percent.
The numbers show there are a significant number of violations occurring across British Columbia regarding wildlife and the environment, and those are only the ones that Conservation Officers can get to and issue tickets.
While we advocate for increased funding for prevention and enforcement to protect wildlife, we also must ask: why has the government allowed things to get so bad?