The past year brought a new face to the Ministry of Environment’s conservation officers in Maple Creek.
Jeff Pratt relocated to town in July after working in the Moose Mountain Field area for the past five years. He joined Geoff Peet who moved to Maple Creek in June of 2016 and was left to handle the field area on his own until officer Pratt arrived.
According to Pratt, 2017 was a not a busy year in terms of enforcement, although some common themes took place.
“The new cougar trapping season resulted in approximately 15 cougars being trapped, and along with those taken by landowners protecting their property, about 20 have been removed from this area,” Pratt said.
While there was a downturn in enforcement files in 2017, Pratt says there was one highlight regarding a couple of Alberta residents.
“A couple of Alberta residents were unlawfully hunting coyotes here in Saskatchewan. Only Saskatchewan residents are allowed to hunt coyotes. A non-resident of Saskatchewan hunting coyotes is an exploitation of Saskatchewan’s wildlife,” he said.
Both individuals pleaded guilty to their charges and received approximately $1,900 in fines altogether.
The Maple Creek Ministry of Environment also reported a successful hunting season with a few small issues that came up but no court action taken. Officers spent the fall educating, focusing mainly on licensing and the tagging system. The Ministry also reported that deer populations are up, game bird populations also increased and the elk population seems to be holding steady.
Conservation officers also found themselves dealing with a number of driving complaints the past year, which led to officers removing a number of individuals from the roads who were under the influence of alcohol. With the assistance of the Maple Creek RCMP, officers were successful in the prosecutions of those individuals.
An area where officers did spend a lot of time enforcing was in regards to the fire bans. More than 150 calls were received regarding fires within Cypress Hills Provincial Park during the fire ban and each one was investigated.
“Many were false alarms or were regarding propane flames but some did result in a few charges being laid due to unlawful fire use. Despite the fire ban, Cypress Hills Provincial Park did see a good number of park visitors,” Pratt said.
Maple Creek Conservation officers ask if there are any questions, do not hesitate to ask them as both officers very approachable. For the new year, there are a few reminders they would like the public to know.
Maple Creek Field Office is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 8 a.m. until noon and 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. If your inquiry is general in nature, please call the Ministry of Environment’s inquiry line at 1-800-567-4224.
If a wildlife, fisheries or environmental violation is observed, please record the following the information:
• vehicle description and licence plate numbers
• description of individuals involved
• exact location (land location, GPS or intersecting roads work well)
• time of the offence
• particulars of the offence
• anything else unique about the vehicle, individuals or situation.
Saskatchewan’s toll-free Turn in Poachers line at 1-800-667-7561 or #5555 for SaskTel cellular subscribers, or report a violation on line at http://www.saskatchewan.ca/tip.