Column: Remembering fish, game and drug traffic checks

Shuswap Outdoors/Hank Shelley

Retirement or just getting older means more trips to the doctor’s office, gym, eating right and looking after oneself.

It also means keeping active in civic affairs, social activities and having fond memories of work-related events that occurred back down the road.

It was June of 2002, when the Revelstoke firehall filled with RCMP officers, park wardens, fishery officers – John and myself, to learn about drug transport, smuggling and human trafficking at a traffic stop or road block.

After all, the Trans-Canada Highway is a pipeline 24/7 for all three.

Related: We thought weed was for hoeing, pot was to put plants in

We took our new-found knowledge to the top of Rogers Pass, on a 24-hour blitz, with RCMP officers, forest service enforcement folks (now defunct), fish and wildlife officers.

Two tow trucks were kept busy hauling seized vehicles away. Charges were laid. We seized crab, salmon, etc. Greenwood (near Rock Creek) had more seizures and charges.

There are few organized game, fish or drug checks anymore. But wait a minute, in my latest issue of Western Canadian Game Warden, there is a great article about the old Cache Creek game check station, which ran until 1981.

It was Labour Day weekend, Yale, 1945, when the first round-the-clock check was imposed.

Post-war era resident and non-resident hunters flocked to the Caribou, Kamloops and Lillooet areas to hunt deer and moose.

The game commission was concerned about over harvest. In the first year of operation, there were 64 convictions of game violations.

In the late 1940s, a tent, then a trailer alongside the Old Caribou Road, was used as a checking station.

In 1955, a permanent structure was erected. To that point, 1953, fish and wildlife wardens checked 12,000 hunters.

Of them, 9,890 were resident hunters – 2,200 moose, 1,700 deer, 6,100 migratory birds, 8,000 upland birds, 148 bears passed through the station.

There were 120 violations, 84 with loaded firearms. During the 1960 season, 17,960 hunters were inspected.

Related: Column: Conservation officers – a bit of history

Hunting licences and trophy fees, in 1953, brought in about $52,062, so the guys in green had to sleep with stashed cash and a revolver under their pillow until a building was built in 1955 with a safe.

At night there could be only one warden on duty, and fisheries staff would fill in. It allowed staff to learn game management and enforcement duties, and provided a training ground for up-and-coming game wardens.

By the 1970s the CO Service’s emphasis on enforcement diminished, due to biologists and enforcement staff reporting to them.

The Cache Creek game check station was transferred to the Biometrics section in Victoria in 1976. Hours were reduced to 14 hours per day.

Looking back over the history of the Cache Creek station, many stories can be told of the hunter who came back with a donkey he’d shot and tied on top of his car, or the frozen moose in the trunk of the car.

A Chevron gas station and A&W now sit at the site of the old station today.

But on Thanksgiving weekend 2016, on the 70th birthday of the first check station, for old time’s sake, conservation officers conducted a four-day blitz of hunters once again.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

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