South Cariboo Conservation Officers are reminding the public to use the RAPP line when they see injured animals that have been struck on the road.
CO Murray Booth said not all these incidents are reported to the conservation service, which will respond if available and put the animal down so it doesn’t suffer. The RAPP line can be reached at 1-877-952-7277 and takes calls on both violations and problem wildlife. Booth noted, however, that injured animals must meet a certain threshold for the COs to attend.
“When an animal is still mobile and feeding we leave it alone until it either gets better, which is the best outcome, he said. “Or if it becomes disabled, it is suffering and can’t fend for itself, then we step in and end the suffering.”
Booth said it can be frustrating for people if they don’t show up or return a call. However, he said they sometimes get numerous calls on a particular animal but COs are bound by policy procedure.
“To be blunt, it is horrible knowing that something is out there but doesn’t meet the threshold. If it meets the threshold, it’s easy for us to deal with,” he said. “We go and end its suffering. It’s very difficult when you know it’s not 100 per cent. No one likes to see something limping or sore.”
According to ICBC quick statistics, there are 11,000 crashes with animals reported in a typical year. In 2021, there were 4,800 reports for the Southern Interior alone. This includes domestic and wild animal life.
Booth noted there is an alternative for people to call 911 and report a collision with an animal to the RCMP. Police will quite often get in touch with the CO service and attend when the COs are not available. Dawson Road Maintenance is responsible for removing dead animals from the road.
“We are not veterinarians. We can’t fix the animal but we can end the suffering,” Booth said. “If the remains are suitable for consumption we might give it to families in need or sometimes First Nations.”
Meanwhile, he doesn’t believe last month’s extended cold snap had much of an impact on wildlife in the area as the service did not respond to more calls than usual.
He said animals are smart and hunker down when it’s cold. It’s only when it warms up that they start to move around more, putting themselves at risk on the highways.
He noted there was a sharp increase in problem bear complaints from September to the end of November. He said he assumes berry crops and natural food sources may have failed and the bears started moving into easy food sources such as garbage bins and bee hives.
The service did a lot of educating the public last year, he added.