Hunters help COS nab poaching suspects

Conservation Officer Service (COS) Sgt. Len Butler is crediting the assistance of hunters, guide outfitters and his own staff.

Conservation Officer Service (COS) Sgt. Len Butler is crediting the assistance of hunters, guide outfitters and his own staff with helping to bring recent caribou and moose poachers to justice.

“There are good hunters out there who help us and they should be commended,” said Butler, who is in charge of the Cariboo Chilcotin zone.

The COS is extremely busy this season, he said.

“We can’t stress enough the need for witnesses to come forward. It’s the only way we can get ahead of cases like these.”

The case Butler’s referring to is a successful investigation into the shooting of two cow caribou in the IItcha Ilgachuz mountains last weekend.

Butler said officers flew into the remote area Saturday after receiving a report Friday afternoon of a cow caribou found shot on a plateau. A second cow was later discovered by officers with a broken leg due to being shot, and had to be put down.

Butler said his officers located a party of four hunters in the area who had legally harvested a bull caribou.

With statements from other hunters in the area who witnessed the incident, and information from a local guide outfitter, officers believe one of the hunters in the group is responsible for killing and injuring the cows while attempting to shoot a bull before separating it from the herd.

Butler said a bullet and gun were sent away for analysis as part of the evidence, and the COS are expected to recommend charges to Crown.

“Obviously caribou are an important species in our province and we’re going to do everything we can to protect them,” he said, extending his thanks to the Fish and Wildlife Section for assisting with resources. “It was a combined effort.”

In the eastern zone near Horsefly, officers were also assisted by a witness who managed to get a licence plate number of an individual accused in an illegal moose kill.

Butler said the suspect is alleged to have shot and left a three-point moose in the Antoine Lake area north of Horsefly Sept. 14.

With help from the Chilliwack COS, the suspect was interviewed and admitted he thought the animal was a mule deer.

Butler said the suspect is also alleged to have shot from inside his vehicle.

“It’s an on-going problem with some people from the Lower Mainland coming up here,” Butler said, noting the suspect has a cabin in the area.

On Sept. 26 in the Quesnel area officers investigated another complaint after a witness reported a moose being taken in the Fish Pot Lake area.

Butler said the moose was seized when officers learned the suspect harvested the animal from the wrong management unit, as he had a moose LEH for the Omineca Region.

“Like the caribou, our moose numbers are struggling and we are getting too many animals shot and left.”

Night hunting is also a major threat to area deer and moose populations, Butler said, with several complaints coming in from the Alexis Creek area this week as well as West Fraser Road and Springhouse Road.

“We have crews around here who go out and actively hunt at night,” he said. “It’s a big problem.”

Butler urged anyone with information on any illegal hunting activity to call the COS’s RAPP line at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).