Following a series of separate wildlife incidents North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice is reiterating the NDP government’s platform promise to hire more Conservation officers.
“We are fully committed to following through on those promises,” Rice said.
In an email response to The Northern View regarding an incursion with a deer, Rice wrote she is aware of the recent and “challenging” human-wildlife interactions in Prince Rupert, and has brought them to the attention of Environment Minister George Heyman. “Decisions of where and how many officers will be hired have not yet been made, but I have clearly communicated to the Minister the community’s desire to have an officer stationed in Prince Rupert.”
The area’s four conservation officers are stationed in Terrace, covering an area extending to Kitimat and through the Nass Valley to Prince Rupert. Due to the long distance, Prince Rupert RCMP is often called upon to handle time-sensitive conflicts, as was the case last week when called to a 6th Avenue East home to free a small buck entangled in a hammock.
A conservation officer assessed the situation over the phone and then coached RCMP officers on the best approach to free the animal. The police were successful but not before putting themselves in harm’s way of the buck’s antlers and kicking hooves.
Nancy and Gunther Golinia, owners of the Prince Rupert Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, have freed countless deer under similar circumstances in their 28 years of operating the shelter. Nancy said even with their experience the risk is always high.
“Those police officers should have danger pay for doing that. You can get badly hurt,” Nancy said.
The Golinas received an initial call about the deer from a resident, but the couple are unable to respond to these situations ever since a rescued eagle sunk its talons into Gunther’s calf, causing an infection. Over the years the couple have volunteered to handle a number urgent matters pertaining to wildlife, to which Nancy said she would like to see the Ministry of Environment invest more in the Conservation Officer Services rather than depend on other agencies such as the RCMP and private citizens such as themselves.
“There definitely is a need here for a Conservation officer,” Nancy says. “But the government seems to be cutting down on everything, and they have been for years. What’s going to happen when we can’t do it anymore? That really weighs heavy on us.”