More officers, more enforcement: New provincial division merges forestry and wildlife
About 90 enforcement officers expected to be stationed across the province
The provincial government is restructuring its environmental divisions by merging Forestry and Wildlife to create the Newfoundland and Labrador Resource Enforcement Division — a way to bolster the number of conservation officers available for fish and wildlife enforcement, according to the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources.
The new division will be implemented in two phases beginning in May.
The first will see an increase to 16 conservation officers in Labrador, up from the current 12. Seven will be stationed in western Labrador, and the remaining nine will be responsible for central and coastal regions.
"What this basically means is not only more officers, but more nodes, or places of service. And that's really important," Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.
"It creates a greater cross-section, a great enforcement reach from greater locations."
Officers in Newfoundland will be folded into the new division after the plan comes online in Labrador.
Byrne said it shouldn't take long before all officers are trained and in place.
Byrne said the new plan is a way for all officers to enforce the same provincial acts — such as the Animal Health and Protection Act, Wildlife Act and Endangered Species Act — without a division in labour or jurisdictions.
"By creating a combined force of equally skilled and talented people with the resources to do the job and do it well, you'll still see two pickup trucks going down that road, but both of them will be able to enforce all of the laws. And that's important," Byrne said.
Byrne said Labrador is where conservation enforcement is needed most, which is why the new division will be rolling out there first.
Once completed there will be 90 cross-trained conservation officers stationed throughout the province, according to the department's news release.
- A previous version of this story stated that the merger was a pilot project. That is incorrect.Mar 13, 2020 11:25 AM NT
With files from Labrador Morning