A conservation officer assigned to the Prince Rupert and Port Edward regions was discussed at the Prince Rupert City Council meeting on June 8, with a motion carried to make a formal request to the province for an assigned officer.
The Conservation Officer Service presence has been high in the area over the past few weeks due to increased wolf sightings and a subsequent wolf attack on a senior citizen in Port Edward on May 29.
“This is a provincial matter that has been going on for years,” Barry Cunningham, city councillor said. “I think the province has neglected it to the point where it is now a serious problem.”
“…When a person gets attacked, which is a very rare occasion, when a wolf attacks a human then something has to be done about it,” Cunningham said.
City councillors discussed the needs and benefits of having an officer stationed in the community.
“I just find it frustrating that you have to make a phone call and have somebody drive for an hour and a half and by the time they show up, the wolf is gone,” Wade Niesh, city councillor said. “To have someone local, at least part time, would definitely help and I think it is warranted.”
Niesh also expressed concerns for the local RCMP officers time, resources and training. It is not an efficient use of taxpayers money to have the RCMP chasing around wolves, Niesh said.
“I think that we have to have the properly trained people, with the proper equipment to do the job and leave the RCMP to be doing what they should be doing, and that’s dealing with other community issues,” Niesh said.
Both Councillors’ Nick Adey and Reid Skelton-Morven agreed that the benefit of an officer isn’t just for reactionary purposes when a predatory animal is encroaching, but could also be proactive with providing educational services, wildlife conservation and wildlife safety.
“I think that the benefit of having an officer here is that you’ve got somebody who is available immediately, but it’s not just about dealing with problem animals. It can also be about education. It can be about mitigation, it can be about preventing things from happening that are foreseeable. So, I think in any number of very positive ways a conservation officer would be an asset to the community,” said Adey.
The motion to request an officer to be assigned to the region was carried and was unopposed.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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