ENFORCEMENT UPDATE - MOOSE KILLED IN CONSERVATION CLOSURE
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship advises on Wednesday, Dec. 2, conservation officers in the Lac du Bonnet area located a bull moose that had been shot from the Trans Licence Road north of Lac du Bonnet in Game Hunting Area (GHA) 26. The moose had been shot within an area closed to all moose hunting and dragged by an all-terrain vehicle close to the Trans Licence Road where it had been hidden.
During the investigation, an officer stopped a truck driven by a lone occupant with an all-terrain vehicle traveling west on the road. The officer observed blood and hair on a knife in the truck and upon questioning, the occupant admitted to killing the animal. The individual was issued a notice to appear in Beausejour provincial court. If convicted of hunting in a closed area, in addition to court-ordered penalties, the individual will face restitution costs of $5,000 for illegally harvesting a bull moose in a conservation closure area. The moose carcass was donated to members of local First Nation communities.
Due to a serious decline in the moose population in GHA 26, recovery measures began in 2010 with closure to licenced hunting. In 2012, as a result of consultations with First Nations, restrictions on rights-based hunting were implemented in small key areas in the GHA.
Anyone with information about these or other illegal activities is asked to call their local Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Office or the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-782-0076 (toll-free).
October 22, 2015
AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES UPDATE
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship reports fall monitoring show zebra mussels are now present in the north basin of Lake Winnipeg. Of the 24 samples collected during the fall Lake Winnipeg monitoring program, one zebra mussel veliger was found in a single water sample collected southeast of George Island. The sampling of Lake Winnipeg is a joint program between the Manitoba government and the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium. Zebra mussels are present in Lake Winnipeg, the Manitoba portion of the Red River, and Cedar Lake immediately west of Grand Rapids. Manitobans are reminded that under the federal Fisheries Act, it is illegal to possess or transport zebra mussels. Penalties for possessing zebra mussels may result in fines or prosecution under this act. The spread of zebra mussels is preventable. Manitobans must to take the proper steps before leaving any water body to: • clean and remove any visible aquatic plants, AIS or mud from the watercraft, trailer and all water-related equipment; • drain all water from motor, bilge, bait buckets and any compartments; • dry all water-related equipment and any hard-to-drain compartments that have contacted the water with a dry towel or sponge before it is used in any other body of water; and • dispose of unused bait and worms in the trash. The measures watercraft owners, including owners of water-based aircraft, should undertake if moored for longer than 24 hours in Lake Winnipeg, the Red River or Cedar Lake to prevent the spread of zebra mussels are explained in a document called The Zebra Mussel Directive. It is available: • by emailing email@example.com; • online at www.manitoba.ca/stopais; • in person at Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship regional offices in Riverton, Gimli, Winnipeg Beach, Selkirk, Pine Falls and Grand Beach between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday; or • in person at Conservation and Water Stewardship at 200 Saulteaux Cres. in Winnipeg between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. To report a zebra mussel or any other AIS from a location, take pictures and visit the website at www.manitoba.ca/stopaisor call 1-87-STOP AIS-0 (1-877-867-2470).
September 30, 2015
CONSERVATION OFFICER ACT PROCLAIMED
The Manitoba government has proclaimed the Conservation Officer Act, recognizing conservation officers as law enforcement officers and giving them the powers of peace officers, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff announced today. “The protection of people and the environment is a big responsibility, and conservation officers deserve to have their jobs clearly defined,” said Minister Nevakshonoff. “The proclamation of this legislation will support officers in their work across the province.”
The legislation changes the designation from natural resource officers to conservation officers. The legislation also sets out provisions for the development of formal training and qualification requirements to meet legislated standards, as well as establishing a formal complaints process. Since the 1940s, officers have enforced resource-based legislation relating to wildlife, forestry, parks, Crown lands and wildfires. They find poachers, issue summonses, conduct investigations and testify in court.
The minister also presented the Conservation Officer Community Service Award and the Wildland Firefighter of the Year Award. “Every day, throughout Manitoba, our employees work hard to make our province a better place to live and work,” the minister added. “Today, we are honoured to recognize two of those public servants whose contributions have gone above and beyond the call of duty, both on the job and in their communities.”
September 30, 2015
TWO RECEIVE SERVICE AWARDS
The 2014 Conservation Officer Community Service Award was presented to Dwayne Strate, who has served as a natural resource officer in communities across the province, including Snow Lake, Norway House, Brandon, Grand Rapids and his final assignment in Swan River. Recently retired, the minister noted Strate was a valuable mentor to other staff by sharing his vast experience and helping train many junior officers. Wherever he was posted, Strate took an active role in the community, volunteering as a coach for hockey and softball, serving on local community boards and helping his community in numerous other ways.
The 2014 Manitoba Wildland Firefighter Award was presented to Dennis Hatch, who has worked in the community of Sherridon/Cold Lake since 1981. As the Cold Lake Fire Ranger, he is known for his professionalism, strong communication skills, expertise as a supervisor and commitment to the job. The minister noted his concern for the safety of his staff also distinguished him throughout his career, adding his dedication does not end with the fire season, as he has frequently assisted natural resource officers in the fall and winter months and even built many of the patrol cabins currently used by officers in the district.
May 14, 2015
MANITOBA GOVERNMENT INTRODUCES WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES AMENDMENT ACT
The Manitoba government introduced the wildlife and fisheries amendment act today, which would help protect wildlife, give conservation officers more time and more tools to investigate, and make it easier for people to apply for guide licences, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff announced today.
“We recognize the numerous and vital roles played when it comes to hunting, fishing and conservation efforts in Manitoba,” said Minister Nevakshonoff. “The proposed amendments will help with enforcement efforts and also let us work with our partners to create efficiencies in obtaining hunting guide licences for those that meet the criteria.”
Highlights of the proposed changes include:
better information sharing between provinces that would ensure banned hunters can’t get a licence in another province;
doubling maximum penalties to $25,000 or $100,000, depending on the offence;
allowing seizure of additional items such as cellphones, documents or GPS units during an investigation;
increasing the statute of limitations, which would allow officers more time to investigate before laying a charge;
effective fall 2016, ending the requirement for trappers to pay royalties on fur-bearing animals; and
adding snapping turtles and painted turtles to the protected species list.
The proposed changes would allow the provincial government to move toward an electronic licensing system so licences and permits could be issued online. The Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association (MLOA) would also become more involved in licence administration by collecting applications, and issuing renewals and guide licences.
“The MLOA is looking forward to working with and supporting Manitoba's hard-working and knowledgeable hunting guides,” said Paul Turenne, executive director, Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association. “We are also pleased to see many of the other changes proposed in the act, particularly with respect to electronic licensing and increased fines for poachers.”
“We are pleased to see these additional measures put in place and support the responsible management of these important natural resources,” said Brian Strauman, president, Manitoba Wildlife Federation. “Our members support responsible hunting, and are encouraged by the additional enforcement efforts and tools for conservation officers.”
These proposed changes support TomorrowNow – Manitoba’s Green Plan, an eight-year plan that supports environmental protection while ensuring a prosperous and environmentally conscious economy.
May 8, 2015
PROVINCE ANNOUNCES NEW FOREST FIRE OPERATIONS CENTRE OPENS IN LAC DU BONNET $9-3-million Centre Will Help Protect Families in the Whiteshell, Nopiming Provincial Parks: Minister Nevakshonoff
LAC DU BONNET—The Manitoba government has opened a new, $9.3-million, 16,260-sq.-ft. regional fire operations center in Lac du Bonnet to enhance forest protection and firefighting capabilities in eastern and central Manitoba, as well as Whiteshell and Nopiming provincial parks, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff announced here today.
“Firefighters need the right equipment and have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice to ensure the safety of the public,” said Minister Nevakshonoff. “This new base will provide staff with modern facilities and ensure they are ready to protect homes, cottages, businesses and forest resources.”
The new site includes an asphalt entrance road, taxiway and apron for parking planes and equipment. In addition, the base has concrete helicopter landing pads, water and waste-water services, a regional fire centre office and warehouse, district fire buildings and staff accommodations.
“We welcome the Fire Operations Centre to our community,” said Reeve Cathie Brereton, RM of Lac du Bonnet. “We fully support the important work the crews do. This year in particular, they have worked hard and have been instrumental in keeping our region and recreational areas safe.”
“The new centre will bring a new sense of fire safety to our area with the security of the Regional Operations Centre right here in our community,” said Mayor Gordon Peters, Lac du Bonnet. “We are pleased to see this enhanced facility in the Lac du Bonnet area.”
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship’s fire program is responsible for the detection and suppression of wildfires across the province. Staff monitor weather patterns, lightning strikes, soil moisture and forest conditions to determine the probability and location of wildfires, and use elite initial attack crews, helicopters, water bombers, other aircraft and heavy equipment to fight fires.
“Wildfires not only impact forest resources but can also become a disaster for affected families and communities,” added Minister Nevakshonoff. “These investments will ensure we’re properly prepared to reduce the risk and effects of forest fires for Manitobans.”
The minister noted this new investment also supports the implementation of TomorrowNow – Manitoba’s Green Plan, the government’s eight-year strategic plan for protecting the environment while ensuring a prosperous and environmentally conscious economy.
May 7, 2015
MANITOBA CONSERVATION AND WATER STEWARDSHIP ENFORCEMENT UPDATE
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship received information through the Turn In Poachers line in 2013 indicating individuals were planning to kill elk from a herd in the Stockton/Treesbank area and sell the meat to Hutterite colonies in the Portage la Prairie area including the Shady Lane Colony.
Natural resource officers (NROs) from the Carberry district conducted extensive day and night patrols and discovered several elk had been illegally harvested in the Stockton/Treesbank area at night on private land without permission from the landowner.
Evidence was collected from the kill sites but no suspects were identified, so the Special Investigations Unit launched an undercover operation. In December 2013, an undercover officer went to the Shady Lane Colony and purchased elk meat from a colony member, identified as Brian Hofer. This was the beginning of a year-long investigation that involved numerous visits to the colony and multiple purchases of elk meat.
During the investigation, it was learned that Hofer had purchased elk from certain individuals in late 2013 or early 2014, most likely for resale. On Dec. 12, 2014, NROs, with the assistance of RCMP members from Portage la Prairie, went to the Shady Lane Hutterite Colony and served Hofer with a summons for illegal meat sales and for possessing elk without legal authority.
While officers were at the colony, Hofer admitted he was expecting another delivery of elk meat. RCMP officers stopped and arrested the alleged supplier driving a truck while in possession of two butchered elk carcasses. As part of the investigation a number of items were seized including the truck, two elk carcasses, cell phones and a GPS unit. One individual was charged for offering to sell wild meat to Hofer.
On April 27, 2015, Hofer pleaded guilty to five counts of violating section 30(a) of the Wildlife Act – ‘sell, buy, trade or barter or offer to sell, buy, trade or barter, or keep for the purpose of sale, the meat of any wild animal.’ Hofer was fined $10,000 and banned from hunting for two years. The investigation into the individual selling elk to Hofer is ongoing.
Anyone with information about illegal activities is asked to call their local Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Office or the Turn in Poachers line (toll-free) at 1-800-782-0076.