Thompson-Cariboo Insp. Len Butler (second from left) marches in the Remembrance Day Parade on Sunday, Nov. 11 in Williams Lake. Butler has been named the 2017 Outstanding Officer of the Year. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Butler recognized as conservation officer of the year

When Len Butler started his career as a fish and wildlife officer in Alberta 38 years ago

Thompson-Cariboo Insp. Len Butler of the Conservation Officer Service said he was caught off guard when he learned he was named 2017 Outstanding Officer of the Year.

“These things go in quite earlier in the year and I did not even know I was nominated,” Butler told the Tribune Friday. “Then I got a call from the chief a couple of weeks ago. He said ‘congratulations’ and I said, ‘what are you talking about?”

Butler attended an official ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 8 to receive the award and meet with the Minister of Environment, George Heyman.

“It is kind of humbling and it is an honour, there’s no doubt about it,” Butler said. “It is great and I appreciate it, but it did make me laugh a bit I have to admit.”

Peers nominate people for the award and Butler said what really hit home was all the e-mails he’s received from officers across the province congratulating him.

“Our MLA Donna Barnett even said something, and she’s across the floor,” he added.

Recalling the wildfires of 2017, Butler said the Conservation Officer Service helped out for 77 days straight working alongside the RCMP.

His career began as a fish and wildlife officer in Alberta 38 years ago when he was given an unmarked truck with a portable emergency light, a pair of boots, a uniform and ticket book, then told to do compliance checks on people hunting and fishing.

Butler was aware he would mainly be working on his own, patrolling large areas off the beaten path and dealing with people who would rather be left alone.

He knew what he was getting himself into when he signed up for the job but he could not help but feel nervous.

“You have to be confident and you have to know your skills quite well. That really hasn’t changed as long as I’ve been doing this job,” said Butler, who started his career in Strathmore and eventually wound up in the isolated northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan.

“I always wanted to get that type of posting. Some of those places that are isolated and you’re working on your own really test you. Your first line of defence is good speaking abilities to get yourself out of a lot of tight situations.”

In 1991, Butler headed west to join the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

Known for his strong work ethic and extensive knowledge, Butler has worked with the Special Investigations Unit and is one of the three leads for the Predator Attack Team, which responds to human-wildlife encounters and attacks.

READ MORE: Bella Coola Valley man attacked by sow grizzly eating from a cherry tree

Preventing human-wildlife conflicts is something Butler is passionate about after dealing with numerous incidents throughout his career.

On one occasion, a sow grizzly and three cubs decided to make the town of Nelson their home, leading Butler on a nearly month-long chase as the animals feasted on garbage and unpicked fruit.

Eventually Butler figured out a pattern and the four bears were captured and released back into the wild.

One of Butler’s proudest accomplishments is putting together the agency’s Defensive Tactics Program in 2007 for training new recruits and existing conservation officers.

Focusing on arrest and control tactics for officer safety, the Defensive Tactics Program has become one of the best training programs in Canada and among the many accomplishments in a career that still feels like an adventure every time Butler steps out into the field.

READ MORE: Conservation Officer Service ramps up

“I have the same excitement as when I was a young officer and I think that means something in this career,” said Butler, who recently returned from a 10-day patrol from Smithers to Atlin where he conducted compliance checks on hunters. “Every day can be different and you make decisions that are going to impact the public, protect fish and wildlife.”

Butler is the 26th recipient of the Outstanding Officer of the Year Award.

As to how long he will continue to work, Butler said another year for sure.

”We’ll just see what happens. I still enjoy what I am doing.”

The Thompson-Cariboo region is big with three zones, three sergeants that report to him, and approximately 18 officers, he added.

“Managing a region is great. I have a lot of good field officers and sergeants. I still get out in the field a bit, which is great. It feeds my sanity.”

With files from provincial government communications.

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

West Fraser curtails production in Williams Lake for one week, Chasm, 100 Mile Chetwynd for 3 weeks

“It affects the whole province of British Columbia. I hate to see this happening.”

Cripps inducted into BC Rugby Hall of Fame; will visit with high school players Tuesday

Cripps was inducted Saturday during the Hall of Fame ceremony in Vancouver

Deep Creek home destroyed by fire

Cause of the fire is unknown at this time

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Letters on way to all homeowners in B.C. speculation tax communities

Property owners have to register to avoid vacant-home tax

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

Good Samaritan rescues cat found in heaps of garbage at B.C. landfill

The cat was abandoned and left to die at the Foothills Boulevard Regional Landfill, the BC SPCA says

Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna home to Canada’s most expensive rentals: report

According to PadMapper, units in larger B.C. cities cost $1,300 to more than $3,000

B.C. home sales drop 25% in 2018

The B.C. Real Estate Association points to the federal government’s mortage stress test

Most Read