Mary PolakMinister of Environment
VICTORIA – Every day, conservation officers around British Columbia are working hard to protect the environment and ensure public safety in challenging and often dangerous situations.
This year marks a very special milestone – the 110th anniversary of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. The inaugural Conservation Officer Day was proclaimed Nov. 4 in celebration of the anniversary. Eleven conservation officers from around British Columbia received awards in recognition of their bravery, dedication and service.
I am extremely proud of the hard work conservation officers throughout the province do every day, and I know it is not easy. This anniversary is a chance to recognize and honour the dedicated men and women who make up the Conservation Officer Service – who every day go above and beyond their duties.
The Conservation Officer Service has grown leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings in 1905, when they were known as game wardens and were mostly volunteers. Today, the service is celebrated as a leader in natural resource law enforcement and human-wildlife conflicts and response.
Conservation officers are the unsung heroes of our environment, tirelessly working to protect and preserve our natural resources, and fish and wildlife for future generations.
Yet their stories are seldom heard. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several conservation officers and hear some of their countless stories of why they love what they do. Many of the conservation officers serving British Columbians got into the role because they are passionate about protecting our pristine wilderness and everything in it.
They speak of their love for the variety of the job, of meeting new people, taking in spectacular scenery and of helping to resolve conflicts with animals. They tell stories of relocating bears, of remote patrols in the backcountry, and of helping teach municipalities the importance of wildlife management.
Several conservation officers were inspired by stories from family or friends, including one who grew up around a campfire with his game warden father. Many others fell into the role through their love of the outdoors.
“I remember meeting my first conservation officer and knowing then, I would one day wear the uniform,” recalled a young woman who has been on the job for nearly five years. “We are the voice for wild things; wild things for which we love.”
The role of a conservation officer is a diverse and demanding one. There is no typical day. Often, the public isn’t aware of the many different tasks an officer takes on. An officer could relocate a bear, track down a poacher and give a wilderness safety talk to students – all in the same shift.
I am proud of the conservation officers we have in our province, who are outside in the sun, rain, snow and sleet doing their best every day. I hold the B.C. Conservation Officer Service in the highest esteem, and know that British Columbians join me in our appreciation of the integrity and values for which they serve the public.
I urge you to take a moment to thank your local conservation officer the next time you see them out in your community.