Don Piller suspected poaching was happening in the woods near his trailer at the Hill Side Trailer Park on Dog Creek Road in Williams Lake, but now he’s got proof.
Last week the retired Williams Lake resident was walking his dog in the woods about seven minutes from his home when he spied fresh ATV tracks, followed them and discovered a deer kill.
The deer had been bled and its carcass left to rot.
“I had a lot of problems with this last year,” Piller said, adding he’s lived there for 20 years. “Since I’m retired I do nothing but take pictures of wildlife in our area here. I’ve been catching these guys all through the fall last year and I’ve been shooting bear bangers off to scare off the wildlife, but nobody seems to believe me that these guys are doing this.”
There’s even been people pit-lamping, but because it’s dark he hasn’t been able to get any photographs.
Piller was very upset about the recent kill.
“We’re way out of season here, it’s not even close to hunting season and I can see where they’ve killed it and the tracks from an ATV and they are using our bush continuously.”
He guessed the deer was killed a week or two before he discovered it.
“You can see the cut out from where they gutted it and peeled back. It ticks me off that they took the best parts and left the rest here.”
As Piller was talking with the Tribune on Tuesday morning, a dirt biker came through the trailer park and headed into the woods, driving right past a “private property no trespassing” sign.
“We’ve got those guys running through there ripping up the trails,” Piller said. “We’ve got those guys and four-wheelers thinking it’s a race track around here.”
Piller retired a year and a half ago and started doing four or five walks a day, starting before the sun comes up, finishing around 4 p.m.
“The poachers come in at night, coming in from the bottom above Walmart. There’s a paved road that goes to a home, and there are signs posted no four-wheelers, no motorcycles, but they still use that road.”
He has caught sight of poachers in the early mornings with lights on facing into the woods, he said.
“I was watching this last year and getting mad, but they hadn’t killed anything yet until one archer killed and lost a deer. He was asking me if I’d seen the dead deer. I told him that wasn’t a good thing because there are people walking in the woods, and we’re going to get bears, cougars and wolves.”
Sgt. Len Butler of the British Columbia Conservation Officer Services Cariboo Chilcotin hasn’t been contacted by Piller and said he encourages the public to report all poachers to his office.
“People have to make calls to the RAAP line or if they see one of our officers on the street come and talk to them,” Butler said. “Our guys work hard to catch poachers but we have a huge zone and need the public to let us know what’s going on. We want the calls.”
Butler said they’ll set up night shifts and work the areas if necessary.
In 2012 the region’s RAAP line received around 1,700 problem wildlife calls. Around 780 were poaching calls.
“Unlawful hunting goes on year round, and catching poachers who are hunting out of season or hunting illegally, that’s our job.”