Report all wildlife (officer) sightings

North Islanders will have to spend several hours on the road if they want to see our Conservation Officers in their natural habitat.

Large predators like wolves and cougars are highly elusive, but they’ve got nothing on the Conservation Officer Service on North Vancouver Island.

In 2011, when the Ministry of Environment announced it would be relocating one of its two “North” Island conservation officers to the zone office in Black Creek, both the Regional District of Mount Waddington and the District of Port Hardy hammered back with written and verbal objection.

Last fall, the lone remaining officer in the Mount Waddington Region, then stationed in Port McNeill, slipped away much more quietly on a reassignment to the Interior. We were assured at the time the post would be refilled “soon”.

Well, the fall and winter months slipped past and the vacancy remained, unnoticed by most. Until, that is, the recent spate of wolf attacks in and around Port Hardy and a surprise visit by a cougar to North Island Secondary School in Port McNeill last week.

Port McNeill RCMP responded to that call, but when the detachment contacted the COS it was informed there were no conservation officers closer than Nanaimo at the time.

This clearly places an added burden on the RCMP, who have been not just the first line of defence in human-animal conflicts, but the only visible line.

“It’s a public safety issue, and we have to do something,” Port McNeill RCMP Sgt. Craig Blanchard said. “It’s not our job, but we have to do it.”

Now, though, local government authorities have developed a renewed interested in the whereabouts of “our” wayward officer. He does appear in a COS website listing as being stationed in Port McNeill. We’d prefer to have him here in person.