British Columbia

B.C. Conservation Officer Service investigating reports of steelhead poaching

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service is investigating reports of the poaching of a threatened population of steelhead on the Thompson River.

Fly fishers' association concerned poachers partly to blame for steelhead decline

Wild steelhead are a catch and release species in B.C. (Matt Joyce)

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service is investigating reports of the poaching of a threatened species of steelhead on the Thompson River. 

Multiple people have reported the same individual for posting photos on social media claiming they caught and killed steelhead from the Thompson River. 

According to the B.C. Steelhead Society, only about 200 steelhead returned to the Thompson River this year.​

"Whenever we deal with any type of wildlife or fish species that may be threatened, the emphasis does get elevated and seriousness would follow that," said Merritt Conservation Officer Paul Pike. "It definitely warrants increased presence to make sure that everything we can do to protect [steelhead] is being done."

The Kamloops Fly Fishers' Association is becoming increasingly concerned about the decline of the Thompson River steelhead population and are worried poachers are part of the problem.

"I don't know much about this individual at all except that he has caught and killed Thompson River steelhead," said fly fishers' association president Leonard Piggin.

"The Thompson River Steelhead are one of the biggest, most tenacious prized steelhead in the world," Piggin said. "There's no other fish with the dynamic that these steelhead have."

Piggin said he and the fly fishers' association plan to take this poacher through a legal battle.

"The courts need to know that poaching these steelhead is something that cannot continue," he said.

All wild steelhead are a catch and release species in B.C.

"It's against the law to keep Thompson Steelhead," Piggin said. 

Given the nature of the steelhead decline, Pike said, if the conservation service does find the reports to be true, they will either issue a fine or take the individual to provincial court. 

With files from Daybreak Kamloops