Boats intercepted with zebra mussels in B.C.

Illegal hunters, 'bear jams' and wildlife rescues all part of the job for conservation officers

Invasive zebra mussels could create havoc with the ecosystems in B.C. lakes if they gain a foothold.

Authorities remain on high alert for invasive species after intercepting four boats in recent weeks that arrived in B.C. infested with live zebra mussels.

One contaminated boat was towed by a vehicle that failed to stop for inspectors on April 28 near Elko, where many vacationers arrive in B.C. from southwestern Alberta and northwestern Montana.

A conservation officer tracked down the vehicle and diverted it back to the inspection station, said Chris Doyle, deputy chief of provincial operations for the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

“The boat it was towing was found to have zebra mussels on it,” Doyle said. “That watercraft was detained and impounded and as well the driver was charged for failing to stop at the inspection station.”

Inspection teams have checked 1,200 boats so far this year. Of those, 64 were flagged as coming from high-risk locations, resulting in 12 decontamination orders and seven 30-day quarantines.

RELATED:‘Bear jams’ on B.C. highways bad for people, animals [with video]

Bears emerging from their dens and searching for food continue to be a problem, particularly when people fail to secure their food and garbage, Doyle said.

He said conservation officers are continuing to respond to reports of “bear jams” where vehicles are stopped on a highway where people are deliberately feeding bears or taking photos.

Even when the bears aren’t being fed there’s concern that people in close proximity may make the bears habituated.

There have also been multiple complaints in Kitimat of grizzly bears feeding on garbage, he added.

He urges people not to remove fawns or other wildlife babies but instead contact conservation officers if there’s reason to suspect they’re abandoned.

Trout rescue effort at Jacko Lake. Photo – Twitter/Jnsperling

Animal rescues are a regular part of the job for conservation officers.

One of the latest operations saw Kamloops officers join forces with local volunteers to retrieve 1,000 rainbow trout that had become stranded in a field after Jacko Lake flooded on April 24.

“Those live rainbow trout were all returned to Jacko Lake.”

Hefty fines have been handed out in recent months against poachers who shot wildlife illegally.

About $2,500 in fines were issued to a group found hunting without licences April 29 in the Kispiox River area.

Another $5,800 in fines were handed out to two Lower Mainland men convicted of hunting deer in a closed season near Rose Prairie in 2013. Conservation officers used DNA evidence to link the poachers to the scene.

And a Burnaby woman was fined $5,200 on May 3 after pleading guilty to trafficking bear gall bladders following incidents in Merritt and Coquitlam in 2014 and 2015.

Trafficking in bear parts in B.C. is rare, Doyle said.

He said the motive of the perpetrator was a traditional belief that the bear gall bladder bile can help relieve suffering from seizures.

Just Posted

Port Hardy council hesitant to formalize question period in agendas, refers it to committee

In first act as new council, representatives were uncertain about formalizing question periods.

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Mt. Waddington’s Salvation Army releases eye-opening statistics report for 2017

Shelter overnight stays saw a 431 per cent increase since 2014.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Cowichan school district defends lack of notice to parents following elementary student arrest

Officials with School District 79 stand by their decision not to send out an alert.

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Most Read