With hunting season in Alberta comes uptick in poachers
Wildlife officials say legitimate hunters and landowners a big source of help spotting poaching activity
With hunting season in full swing across Alberta, Fish and Wildlife officers are busy out in the field.
While their duties range from public safety to enforcement efforts, they also tend to deal with an increase in poaching activity, which includes people hunting on private property without permission.
Wade Nelson, who has a farm near High River, usually doesn't allow hunting on his property because it's too close to other homes.
He said while most hunters are respectful and responsible, there is a small number of people who are an ongoing issue.
"You'll see tracks later where someone's clearly gone in and shot something and pulled it out when there's a sign that says no hunting," he said.
'They're really opportunists'
Cochrane Fish and Wildlife District Officer Mark Hoskin says trespassing and shooting wildlife from vehicles are some of the common calls this time of year.
Hoskin said poachers typically aren't legitimate hunters with licences and are motivated by several reasons, including illegal sale of wildlife parts.
"They're really opportunists. If they see something and it's something that they're after, such an animal with a large set of antlers, then they'll poach on private land."
Hoskin said poachers can be part of sophisticated groups or acting alone.
"Hunters as a group are ethical and they follow all the rules, however we do get poachers that disguise themselves as hunters."
While the year-round problem picks up during hunting season, the province says overall poaching numbers have remained steady in recent years.
It laid charges or issued warnings in connection with 2,500 investigations under the Wildlife Act last year.
Wildlife officials said legitimate hunters and landowners tend to be a big source of help spotting poaching activity.
People can report problems through its Report A Poacher program by phone or online.
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With files from Dave Gilson