In Fort St. John, B.C., where the RCMP police more than 46,000 square kilometers of towns and forests, it's not uncommon to spot police and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service working together.
The two agencies team up on various jobs like backwoods patrols and ride check programs, looking for everything from impaired driving and illegally harvested animals to firearms violations.
Each agency has its own priorities and enforcement goals, but the work crosses over quite a bit," says RCMP Sgt. Tim Paulmert, who's worked with conservation officers throughout northeastern B.C. during his 17 years in Fort St. John.
Working together allows RCMP officers and conservation officers to share knowledge and expertise, which is especially important when working deep in the forest.
Last November, when RCMP Cst. Stephen Adams needed to work in the remote Muskwa-Kechika Access Management Area, he contacted the Conservation Officer Service for guidance on the terrain.
They know a lot of the details about the rural areas that we may not be privy to at the detachment in Fort St. John," says Adams, who was posted to the area last spring after graduating from Depot, the RCMP's training facility, in April.
While using an RCMP helicopter to reach the backcountry, Adams and Conservation Officer Tristan Montjoy used the opportunity to check for public compliance with hunting regulations and off-road vehicle restrictions.
We had an investigation in the area as well," says Montjoy. "
It was bison hunting season at that time of year and some motor vehicle restrictions were in place."
Learning from the conservation officers allows the RCMP to support their work protecting wildlife and fragile ecological areas.
Unfortunately poaching is a problem here so it's important for our RCMP members to learn from conservation officers about the enforcement powers surrounding it and how to identify a poached animal," says Paulmert.
Isolated areas are not the only places where RCMP and conservation officers team up.
When human-wildlife interactions are reported, whether it's a bear that's wandered into town or an animal struck by a vehicle, the RCMP can call conservation officers for advice or the conservation officers can request extra help from the RCMP.
When we're dealing with bears, it's good to have extra hands around," says Montjoy.
Last summer, when a family of bears was visiting backyard berry bushes and fruit trees in Fort St. John, RCMP officers helped with crowd control while the conservation officers tranquilized and captured the bears, allowing the animals to be safely relocated outside of town.
At Depot, they really stressed partnerships and teamwork. It's a rewarding experience to implement that with the conservation officers," says Adams.