By Laura Keil

Every year Robson Valley and North Thompson residents deal with wildlife encounters. This week we’ve covered the story of a poor baby mountain goat found along the side of Hwy 16.

The young men who found her immediately tried to contact the Conservation Office. Our “local” Conservation Officers are hardly household names up here, since the closest is located in Clearwater – nearly three hours from where the baby Goat was found. 

Anyway, days went by without an answer. I’m sure the Conservation Service has its hands full with such a massive geographical area. It must be incredibly difficult to respond to calls in a timely manner. Which leads me to a salient question: why are we allotting such gigantic areas to one or two Conservation officers? And why are Conservation Officers not distributed more equally in rural areas?

In 2018, the Province hired 20 more officers, bringing the total to 160. I’m not sure how that stands today, but even in 2018, many communities felt left out of the announcement. 

Conservation Officers have an important role to play in mitigating the needs of humans and wildlife, and in the Robson and North Thompson Valleys, we know how common it is to have wildlife interactions. Similar to other enforcement professions, their presence alone is a deterrent to poor behaviour, and from a prevention perspective, they could provide valuable insight and education on how best to prevent conflicts and what to do in cases of injured animals. 

As far as rehabilitating or providing sanctuary to injured wildlife, this is another gap in our region. We are a minimum three hours away from the nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre/sanctuary (Kamloops). What would it take to have something local? Often these sanctuaries are places of learning and could augment our tourism offerings if done appropriately.

As a nature lover myself, I’d love to see more local knowledge and capacity built right here at home. And I’d like to see a 7-day/week provincial hotline for residents to call when they encounter a problem.