by Kathy Michaels
Cleaning up after campers isn’t a novelty for Okanagan conservation officers, but the trail of carnage left by a group who took to the hills above the valley this past long weekend has them frustrated.
“We always get a little bit more wild behaviour on the long weekends, but May long weekend is usually the worst,” said conservation officer Sgt. Jim Beck.
Up in the forested area that straddles the hills above Peachland and Summerland, that observation was reinforced.
“Through our Report All Poachers and Polluters line, an individual called in and said they heard a ruckus in the Headwaters Lake area and they went in after the dust settled to see what was left behind,” he said.
What they found was a truckload of garbage and creatures protected under the wildlife act, slaughtered.
“There were some songbirds they killed and a beaver was shot and partially skinned,” said Beck, noting that it was clear from the beaver’s corpse that the effort to remove its pelt was rudimentary at best.
“It’s senseless killing. We deal with all kinds of wildlife offences, and from time to time we get something like this.”
The vast majority of outdoor enthusiasts aren’t bent on destruction and have an appreciation of natural resources, he said.
“Groups like these tend to be disrespectful,” he said. “(This group) had guns, but that doesn’t mean they’re hunters. They were discharging firearms all through the night.”
Along with a trail of dead creatures and garbage and there’s evidence of a larger-than-permitted forest fire. The group also damaged the gate to the District of Summerland’s water supply, which has become a West Kelowna RCMP file.
When conservation officers finally find the people who made a mess in the forested area, they’ll have plenty of options for penalties.
“We have a couple of leads that we’re hoping will lead us to them,” said Beck, noting that some good samaritans cleaned up the site, and took loads of pictures that are being catalogued as evidence.
“If anybody has any knowledge of who did this they can give us a call through the RAPP line.”
Anyone with information is asked to call West Kelowna RCMP or the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.