British Columbia

Disappointment as Prince Rupert fails to get conservation officer

The province recently deployed the additional officers to places like Grand Forks, Bella Coola, Port McNeil, Haida Gwaii and Duncan among other locations, but not to the North Coast port city.

Government sending out 20 new officers around B.C. based on volume, location and safety

20 new conservation officers were sworn in on April 26 to help manage human wildlife conflicts in B.C. There are now 160 deployed across the province. (Government of B.C.)

Residents and animal advocates in Prince Rupert, B.C., say they're disappointed that none of the 20 new conservation officers deployed around the province will be stationed in the city.

The province recently deployed the additional officers to places like Grand Forks, Bella Coola, Port McNeil, Haida Gwaii and Duncan among other locations, but not to the North Coast port city.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service help ensure public safety when it comes to human and wildlife conflicts.

The provincial government announced the new officers last week, saying it recognized the need for additional staff to help protect the province's natural resources.

"For too long, there has been a lack of frontline conservation officers, and communities have suffered the consequences," said Environment Minister George Heyman in a release.

A deer that got caught in a purple hammock in 2017 in Prince Rupert, B.C., made headlines around the world and became known as Hammy. (David MacKenzie)

Why not Prince Rupert?

The new recruits will be in place for the fall, but Marcades Mack is disappointed none will be deployed in her hometown of Prince Rupert.

"It's baffling, it doesn't make any sense to me," she said.

In 2017 she found a deer tangled in a hammock. With the nearest conservation officers located more than an hour away, it was up to RCMP officers to respond and free it.

"Having somebody being called from Terrace is just ... ridiculous considering the amount of time it would take," she said. "If an animal is in desperate need of help, they're waiting there."

Gunther Galinia, who runs a wildlife shelter with his wife, said he would also like to see conservation officers in the North Coast.

The 88-year-old says he rescues hundreds of animals like bear cubs, moose, deer and birds each year, and often relies on local volunteers or RCMP to help because of the lack of local conservation officers.

Assessing deployment

The province says it understands why individual communities want its own officer, but that it cannot meet that demand. Officers can be called to deal with emergencies outside of their zone.

It says the service considers a number of factors when determining where the most urgent safety needs exist, including call volume, geographic location and officer safety.

The province says it will annually reassess its deployment of conservation officers.

The additional hiring brings the current number of officers in the province to 160.