A total of nine conservation officers have been hired to fill new and vacant postings in northern communities, while 11 others will be hired for postings elsewhere in B.C.
The 20 new conservation officers were sworn in today in Victoria. A government news release stated that the eight of the staff have been hired to fill existing vacancies and areas where retirements are imminent. Twelve of these new staff members will fill newly created positions, including one position each in Mackenzie, Chetwynd, Haida Gwaii and Atlin. Two positions have been created for the North Fraser zone.
The remaining eight conservation officers will fill posts in Quesnel, Terrace, Prince George, Fort St. John, Creston, Merritt and the Lower Mainland.
Conservation officers cover specific zones and are responsible for responding to complaints and concerns within these zones. The location of the new conservation officer positions were chosen based upon call volume, consideration for officer safety, zone coverage and geographic location.
"We recognize the need for additional conservation officers to help protect our natural resources and lessen human-wildlife conflicts. For too long, there has been a lack of frontline conservation officers, and communities have suffered the consequences," said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in a media statement.
The new recruits will begin their training at the Western Conservation Law Enforcement Academy in May. Once they have completed their training, these 20 new conservation officers will represent a 14 per cent increase in the number of conservation officers in B.C., bringing the total number to 160.