Boats intercepted with zebra mussels in B.C.

Illegal hunters, 'bear jams' and wildlife rescues all part of the job for conservation officers

Invasive zebra mussels could create havoc with the ecosystems in B.C. lakes if they gain a foothold.

Authorities remain on high alert for invasive species after intercepting four boats in recent weeks that arrived in B.C. infested with live zebra mussels.

One contaminated boat was towed by a vehicle that failed to stop for inspectors on April 28 near Elko, where many vacationers arrive in B.C. from southwestern Alberta and northwestern Montana.

A conservation officer tracked down the vehicle and diverted it back to the inspection station, said Chris Doyle, deputy chief of provincial operations for the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

“The boat it was towing was found to have zebra mussels on it,” Doyle said. “That watercraft was detained and impounded and as well the driver was charged for failing to stop at the inspection station.”

Inspection teams have checked 1,200 boats so far this year. Of those, 64 were flagged as coming from high-risk locations, resulting in 12 decontamination orders and seven 30-day quarantines.

RELATED:‘Bear jams’ on B.C. highways bad for people, animals [with video]

Bears emerging from their dens and searching for food continue to be a problem, particularly when people fail to secure their food and garbage, Doyle said.

He said conservation officers are continuing to respond to reports of “bear jams” where vehicles are stopped on a highway where people are deliberately feeding bears or taking photos.

Even when the bears aren’t being fed there’s concern that people in close proximity may make the bears habituated.

There have also been multiple complaints in Kitimat of grizzly bears feeding on garbage, he added.

He urges people not to remove fawns or other wildlife babies but instead contact conservation officers if there’s reason to suspect they’re abandoned.

Trout rescue effort at Jacko Lake. Photo – Twitter/Jnsperling

Animal rescues are a regular part of the job for conservation officers.

One of the latest operations saw Kamloops officers join forces with local volunteers to retrieve 1,000 rainbow trout that had become stranded in a field after Jacko Lake flooded on April 24.

“Those live rainbow trout were all returned to Jacko Lake.”

Hefty fines have been handed out in recent months against poachers who shot wildlife illegally.

About $2,500 in fines were issued to a group found hunting without licences April 29 in the Kispiox River area.

Another $5,800 in fines were handed out to two Lower Mainland men convicted of hunting deer in a closed season near Rose Prairie in 2013. Conservation officers used DNA evidence to link the poachers to the scene.

And a Burnaby woman was fined $5,200 on May 3 after pleading guilty to trafficking bear gall bladders following incidents in Merritt and Coquitlam in 2014 and 2015.

Trafficking in bear parts in B.C. is rare, Doyle said.

He said the motive of the perpetrator was a traditional belief that the bear gall bladder bile can help relieve suffering from seizures.

Just Posted

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Endoscopy Campaign wraps up at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

The KBRH Health Foundation recently held a donor ceremony for contributors to its $450,000 tally

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Elections 2018: Meet your Grand Forks Council Candidates

The biographies of the 13 candidates for City of Grand Forks council

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

Most Read