Wednesday, May 27, 2020

City Council reinforces call for Prince Rupert based Conservation Officer

Wildlife was on the mind of Prince Rupert Councillors on Monday, as City Council addressed the current hot topic in town of the increasing amount of interactions between residents and wildlife, in this case a growing number of calls for action on wolves.

Earlier this month, we noted of the community concern towards the increasing numbers of interactions, with residents taking to social media to recount their experiences and forwarding their complaints to the provincial Conservation Office in Terrace.

Yesterday we outlined that the officers were in Prince Rupert this week in response to some of the recent calls from the city.

The discussion from Monday night was introduced by Councillor Nick Adey who asked just what kind of jurisdiction the city has when it comes to addressing community concerns.

In reply to the question City Manager Robert Long observed that the City has limited actions that it can take when it comes to wildlife concerns.

"We have really no control over those issues, we have some control obviously over domestic pets, but we don't have any control over wildlife that's a provincial issue under the wildlife act. We usually from a practical point of view, if a wolf does show up and I think all of us have experienced a wolf at some point, a quick phone call to the Conservation Service, they usually respond from Terrace and that is the most effective way for us to manage any of that difficulty"-- City Manager Robert Long

As a follow up, Mr. Adey, noting of the significant interest from the community on the topic, asked as to where the City is at when it comes to persuading the province to locate  a Conservation Officer based in Prince Rupert.

Mr. Long noted that the city has made numerous correspondences over the years to request, but at the moment and to his knowledge, any calls for assistance are still dispatched through the Terrace office.

Councillor Niesh weighed in on the topic, suggesting that the City send another correspondence to the province to request that a conservation officer be based in the community, noting of the many complaints the city receives about wolves and incidents with local residents each year.

"I do feel that this is something that comes up every year, it seems that every year we forget about it and everyone seems to talk about it like it's something new. Every year the wolves come to town and every year the wolves take peoples animals, some years may be worse than others, but I do feel that it is a problem that is here every year and I do think that they should be able to provide a Conservation Officer"  -- City Councillor Wade Niesh on the wolf situation in Prince Rupert.

He observed that as a Rupert taxpayer, residents pay for the RCMP and how he doesn't think it's right that the members have to respond to calls to chase wolves all around town.

Mr Niesh also suggested that the city make numerous requests if required to the provincial government to get action on the request.

The Mayor outlined that staff would prepare a letter for Council to review at their next meeting, as well as what other steps they could take to reinforce their message.

"I know we have had many engagements in the past, I know a couple of years ago we did the same thing and then we'll reach out to the MLA's office as well to see if we can figure out a process for that for sure"  -- Mayor Lee Brain looking to engage the province on the need to base a Conservation officer in Prince Rupert.

On the theme of wolves, Councillor Cunningham also outlined some of the responsibilities that residents have, noting how they can make sure that they're garbage cans are taken care of, and that you have no attractants on your property that may be contributing to the problem.

You can review the discussion of the issue with wolves from the City's Video archive, starting at the thirty seven minute mark.

You can follow more of the wolf discussion from our Council Timeline Feature here.

For a look at some of the past calls for a Conservation Officers in the region see our Emergency Responders archive.

For a wider overview of the City Council discussion themes see our archive page here.

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