Conservation Officer Services organized four-day, 24-hour roadside wildlife checks at Cache Creek on the Thanksgiving Day long weekend. More than 1,500 hunters and anglers were checked. Photo: Ken Alexander.

More than 1,500 hunters, anglers stopped on Highway 97 in local game check

Cache Creek roadside stop more about warnings and education than fines

There was a massive four-day roadside wildlife check at the north entrance to Cache Creek on the Thanksgiving long weekend, Oct. 5-8. Conservation Officer Jeff Clancy of the Lillooet CO Service, who organized the project that went around the clock for the first three days, says there were 20 COs from around the region involved in the roadside check.

“We also had assistance from an aquatic invasive species (AIS) inspector, wildlife biologists, Fisheries and police.”

Clancy notes the AIS inspector didn’t bring any decontamination equipment. What he did was if someone had a boat that had been in and out of a lake in one of the target areas, he would question them, ask them how long they had been travelling and determine if they needed to contaminate or not, he explains.

“I think they’re finding most people are local. In the summer months, you see a lot more boat traffic.”

Clancy says he can’t speak to the roadside check statistics because they haven’t all been compiled.

“I have to wait for the 20-plus officers to send me emails with their numbers and they’re all busy and it was a weekend … so they’re still rolling in.

“Right now, our numbers are 1,200 hunters and 114 anglers,” he adds.

No. 1 infraction

“The main infraction we’re seeing and it’s kind of a trend from 2016 was hunters bringing through their wildlife and not bringing evidence of sex and species attached to the carcass.”

Clancy says it’s a bit of a weird infraction.

“Some people don’t know or they get caught up in the moment and leave the parts in the wood, and we don’t what that animal is. It’s hard to determine.

“We understand. It’s not the end of the world.”

So, what do you do in that case?

“It would depend. Most of the enforcement actions I’m seeing are warnings.

“Some of them are violation tickets and most of them are when it’s very hard to determine what that animal is. If somebody comes through and says they have a moose and it doesn’t look like enough meat to be a moose and there’s no way for us to determine if it is, then how can we let people keep it if their due diligence isn’t there.”

They have to leave the parts with the carcass so it can be identified, he adds. Clancy said the meat that was confiscated was distributed to the local First Nations bands.

“There was certainly more this time than there was in 2016 [when they had a similar four-day roadside check].”

Clancy says they set up and stayed at the Sage Hills Motel, where the owners “graciously” gave them a flat rate.

He notes they were checking southbound traffic just north of the bridge the Bonaparte River flows under.

Then COs pulled the vehicles they needed to check into the entrance road for the motel.

Clancy says the checkpoint involved a lot of paperwork.

“One violation ticket takes about three hours to process – writing e-mails, creating files, updating files, contacting people and closing the files.”

Education important

“Education is massive.”

It’s about letting people know the COs are out there, he says.

“It’s about letting people know we’re not there just to hand out fines. We’re there because people need to learn, and that’s why the warnings were there.

“Our warnings statistics are double what the infractions are for the Wildlife Act.

“It’s up to those hunters and anglers to know they have to abide by those rules, but I’m going to kind of stick to the possession side of things. The hunter needs to know they have to leave parts attached when they’re transporting game.”

Clancy says the education piece is definitely worthwhile – the education thing is mainly what we want to get across.

“If they have any questions about a regulation, they can ask us and they don’t have to find out from somebody else a regulation is and they might give them wrong information.”

Firearms issues

Clancy says there were a couple of loaded firearms discovered.

“Maybe it was local hunters who still had their firearms out of a case, or they’re in a case and they forgot to unload them.” The CO says this is the first thing he does when he pulls over a hunter.

“I asked for the licence and deal with the firearms right away. You hate for a loaded firearm to site there any longer than it should. Then I look for game. I think that’s the best plan of attack.”

Overall response

Clancy says the responses of the hunters and anglers who were pulled over were “excellent.”

He notes there were some people and Facebook groups online who weren’t happy about getting pulled over and some people were trying to avoid the roadside check.

“We get that every year. People don’t want to wait or they know that they have something wrong and they just want to take a detour.

“So, we had some roving COs at the pinch points like Highway 24 and Highway 99.”

He says if they are going to set up roadside checks every year, people catch on and they they’ll have to do the roving checks to eliminate people trying to go around.

Game checks

There was a permanent game-checking station in Cache Creek for a number of years, but it was closed permanently in 1981. In 2016, the Conservation Officer Service held a game-checking project in Cache Creek. Clancy says it all depends on budgets on whether they continue with game-checking projects.

However, he thinks they are well worth the effort.

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