Valley Fish and Game Club hosts Wilderness Watch Workshop

Over 30 club turn out for workshop to improve and attain further wilderness knowledge

The Valley Fish and Game Club hosted a BC Wildlife Federation Wilderness Watch Workshop Feb. 16 with over 30 club members turning out in order to develop knowledge on wilderness-themed activity.

The workshop was led by BCWF’s provincial Wilderness Watch coordinator Jim Helsdon and included special guest speakers Mark Kissinger from the Conservation Officer Service, Willi Jansen from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and CVRD Area F (Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls) Director Ian Morrison.

“Helsdon gave a great facilitation on the proper way of doing patrols and what to look for when out in the wilderness. He instructed us on the proper way of preserving evidence, who to call in certain scenarios and how to properly log all data obtained, giving copies to the proper authorities,” said Denis Martel, from the Valley Fish and Game Club, in an email to the Gazette.

“Kissinger thanked all of us for our effort in doing our part, helping conserve and protect our environment and its inhabitants. He also instructed us in several ways to find and preserve evidence until they (conservation officers) can get to the crime/poaching scenes,” said Martel.

“Jansen told those in attendance that Fisheries & Oceans really depend on public and Fish & Game Club member information in order to know: what, who, when and where infractions occur on the beaches and the ocean, such as undersized crabs, salmon, halibut, etcetera.”

In recent times, the Wilderness Watch has been responsible for information which prompted investigations of illegal activity out in the wild “with possible charges to be issued” according to Martel.

Jansen explained at the meeting that if charges are issued, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will recommend any funds coming about from fines be directed and sent to the Wilderness Watch.

Morrison was there to thank the Wilderness Watch and the club for all they do in brushing up the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

“Morrison thanked the club for inviting him to this special event. Ian said that the CVRD is very appreciative of all the work this club and Wilderness Watch has done for the CVRD. The work done by Valley Fish and Game Club members for cleaning up the environment from tons of trash and garbage thrown in the bush is very much appreciated by the CVRD.”

Morrison on the night also explained the function of the CVRD’s Ways and Means Grant whereby the club may be able to obtain “special equipment” for future use with wildlife.