Wildlife officers needed back in Lewisporte to stop poaching, agrees Scott Simms

Wildlife conservation officers are needed back in Lewisporte, according to the member of Parliament for Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame, who says he will lobby Environment Canada to reinstate jobs there.

MP meets with area residents to discuss concerns about seabirds

MP Scott Simms says he will lobby Environment Canada to reinstate jobs at the wildlife enforcement office in Lewisporte. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Wildlife conservation officers are needed back in Lewisporte, according to the member of Parliament for Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame.

Scott Simms said he will make that point in a meeting with Environment Canada this week and will also argue for more enforcement during government's pre-budget consultations.

The head of the Rod and Gun Club in Lewisporte, Perry Cooper, told CBC's Central Morning Show on Friday that the area's seabird population could be at risk, because of a lack of enforcement on the northeast coast. 

"With the encroaching northern ice, eider ducks and turrs will be pushed closer to shore and into pools of water where they could easily over-harvested, or if you want to use the word — slaughtered," said Cooper.

"We liken the lack of wildlife enforcement with Environment Canada to that of having no highway patrol on the Trans Canada. It's a free for all." 

Murres like these - also known as Turrs - are vulnerable without anyone watching out for poachers, advocates say. (Wikimedia Commons)

Migratory game birds fall under the responsibility of Environment Canada, and while two wildlife officers once worked out of the Lewisporte office, the former Conservative government put an end to that.

One of the former officers retired, and the other position was moved. 

The area was promised that an officer from Corner Brook or St. John's would patrol from time to time, which is something Cooper said he hasn't seen yet.

Perry Cooper is with the Lewisporte Rod and Gun Club, and is speaking out about the lack of federal wildlife enforcement officers on the northeast coast. (Katie Breen/CBC)

At a public meeting Monday, Simms told residents he hopes a solution can be found.

"Right now we currently have two positions in Corner Brook, two positions in St. John's. What that does is now the middle part of the island is opened up — we're talking about the northeast coast, south coast, Connaigre peninsula," said Simms.

"I would love to have a wildlife officer in every town but of course finances being what they are, that's just not possible so hopefully this will be rectified pretty soon."

Cooper wants to see the renewable resource kept in a healthy state so it will be there for generations to come. 

"We believe if the two wildlife officers aren't replaced here in Lewisporte, then the last 25 years of conservation will be reversed and the resource will be depleted. We have no doubt about that."

The Wildlife Conservation office in Lewisporte no longer has an enforcement officer working on Newfoundland's northeast coast. One of the former officers retired, and the other position was moved. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Environment Canada said in a statement late Monday afternoon that it is reassessing its staffing requirements since the retirement in Lewisporte. 

It said the wildlife enforcement division "aligns its resources in the most efficient way to effectively address wildlife and pollution crime risks."

The department said it will continue to protect migratory birds and work to prevent poaching.