Environment, wildlife, suffering from provincial cutbacks, workers say

Conservation officers in British Columbia are struggling to keep up with an increasing case load, while the government continues to limit their staff numbers, says the Society of B.C. Conservation Officers.

The Province reported this week that the CO’s association and the NDP environment critic are launching complaints at the Ministry of Environment.

The claim is that calls are increasing while staff numbers have not increased on par – in fact, they’ve been limited significantly in recent years. The Ministry of Environment claimed, according to The Province, that the increase in calls is not a sign of more violations; rather it’s a sign that people are more aware of the public tip line for poachers, environmental violators and wildlife conflicts.

“Conservation officers are … our police officers for the environment,” NDP environment critic Chandra Herbert was quoted as saying in The Province. “Our environment, to a large extent, is our economy. If you’re not taking care of it, you lose that value. People are very passionate in B.C. about protecting our environment, but that’s also because it’s good for our economy. Our provincial motto is ‘Splendour Without Diminishment,’ yet there’s a whole bunch of diminishment going on, and nobody’s standing up for the splendour.”

One officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Province, noted that the government is spending $250,000 on a ‘Yoga Day’ event in Vancouver while officers are lacking in safety training and equipment.

“It’s demoralizing to the whole service,” the officer said.

This lack of respect for the environment is becoming systemic in British Columbia and across Canada. From poor natural resource policy to the shoot-first mentality of wildlife and environmental workers, it is more necessary than ever that people stand and speak up for the environment and our wild neighbours.

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