Increased patrols due to wildfire hunting closures have resulted in more charges, said Insp. Len Butler of the Thompson Cariboo Region of the Conservation Officer Service (COS).
The Williams Lake Tribune initially contacted Butler after the BCCOS tweeted that officers caught suspects west of the Fraser River hunting at night, and also hunters with an illegal bull moose.
In the instance of the moose, Butler said the matter was a case of hunters reading their Limited Entry Hunt incorrectly.
“They made a mistake on their draw. They did everything else legitimately. They realized it and were very forthcoming with information.”
Butler said the moose, which was harvested outside of the burned area, was confiscated and given to Abraham’s Lodge in Williams Lake to be put to use.
Charges of hunting at night and hunting on private property will be laid against three or four individuals who killed two bucks west of the Fraser River, Butler said.
“These individuals (charged) are First Nations but I can say there are as many non-First Nations night hunters as First Nations,” Butler said.
“We know there is meat being sold in this area and taken to the Lower Mainland. It’s an issue that we deal with every year. Unfortunately it tarnishes all the good hunters we have in this area but I know without the help of the hunters and landowners we wouldn’t catch a lot of these individuals, and I call them individuals because I don’t want to call them hunters, they’re poachers.”
Working together with First Nations, rather than against one another, in developing a strategy to protect wildlife resources this hunting season has been positive, said Butler, noting the groups are being guided by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sees protection of wildlife at the forefront.
“It’s been very positive. We’re focusing on the resources, not the politics,” Butler said Monday, noting that there as been extra enforcement out on patrols due to the special hunting closures this year resulting in more poachers being caught. “If we can work together to sustain the moose population, that’s a win-win.”
Butler noted that extra enforcement has had officers ensuring all wildlife resources are being protected, however, moose have been the priority.