An unusually high number of moose poaching has taken place in the North Okanagan, and particularly Kelowna.
“This year in general, we saw an incredible amount of moose shot and left or illegally killed,” said Micah Kneller, Conservation Officer for the region, which covers Kelowna, Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby, Salmon Arm and Sicamous.
“It was a pretty bad year. Pretty disappointing to see that coming from down here.”
Among them is a recent case, where charges are being recommended to Crown Counsel against two local men.
“What we’re investigating is a person who has exceeded his bag limit and used another person’s license,” said Kneller.
While individuals are only allowed one moose, it is alleged that this hunter shot two.
“You can’t shoot a moose and then call your buddy up and tell him to cancel a tag,” said Kneller. “You’re not allowed to cancel a species license for an animal you never killed.”
The suspect also failed a compulsory inspection and the meat has been seized.
The suspects could face stiff fines.
“We have an option for any violation to handle with a warning or a court appearance. We are beyond a warning,” said Kneller. “It’s a pretty serious offense.”
Unfortunately, this case is not uncommon.
“It probably happens more than we’d like to know,” said Kneller.
But poachers are warned that COs do not take such offences lightly.
“We want people to understand that we are investigating this kind of stuff, we take it seriously.”
In fact, the whole reason COs such as Kneller got into their careers in the first place is to look out for the wildlife.
“Our wildlife resources are finite. It’s not like we have an endless supply of wildlife that people can go out and shoot and kill,” said Kneller, adding that COs get a lot of heat for problem bears and cougars, but that is not the part of the job they enjoy.
Aiding in such investigations is forensics testing, from DNA to firearms.
“We have the ability to match bullets to guns,” said Kneller, as COs use police testing.
Anyone who has information about poaching can call the RAP line, and can remain anonymous, at 1-877-952-7277.
“There’s antler restrictions. When you see a moose you can’t just shoot it and then see what you got.”
Individuals can also self report, which would still be investigated, but is more likely to lead to a warning versus charges.