Sharp rise in calls to conservation officers in B.C., as pandemic pushes more people outdoors
Complaints about fishing and hunting violations, loud campers top the list
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says there has been a sharp increase in calls to its Report All Poachers and Polluters line compared to this time last year, likely because of more people heading outdoors during the pandemic.
Chris Doyle, the deputy chief in charge of provincial operations for the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, says, since April 1, there have been about 4,500 calls to the RAPP line, compared to about 3,000-3,500 calls in past years.
"We've definitely seen an increase in activity particularly in some parts of the province," Doyle said. "There's definitely a lot of people out there recreating."
Doyle says calls have come in on a variety of complaints ranging from Fisheries and Wildlife Act violations to campers having loud parties out in the bush. Other types of complaints have included illegal dumping, boats that fail to stop at inspection stations to search for invasive species and off-road vehicles.
'We really appreciate getting the call'
There has been an increase in calls across the province, Doyle says, but particularly in the South Coast, Okanagan and East Kootenay regions.
"On the one hand, we really appreciate getting the call. You know, we rely on information from the public to let us know what's going on out there," he said. "It's disappointing to see that some people aren't abiding by the rules and the laws."
Doyle says anyone heading outdoors should make sure they're aware of all the regulations for the area they're going to, whether it be for off-roading, hunting or fishing. They should also clean up after themselves, especially any food or garbage that could attract bears.
People camping on Crown land isn't a new occurrence in B.C., Doyle says, and it's generally not an issue, as long as they do so responsibly and don't cause any damage to the area.
Although Doyle expects to see fewer campers as the weather cools, he suspects the number of complaints won't change as much as the types of complaints, as people enjoy different types of recreation like hunting or snowmobiling.