We don’t like ‘killing animals,’ says former BC conservation officer


When you work as a conservation officer, taking on the role of reaper comes with the territory.

“The work is interesting and rewarding at times, but it’s certainly not for everyone,” said Peter Pauwels, who retired at the end of June after 30 years with the Greater Victoria-based BC Conservation Officer Service. .

“We have to do a lot of nasty things in this job. The number of animals I had to kill is staggering. It’s never easy and it’s expensive. For better or worse in some ways, we are society’s killing tool.

One of the challenges Pauwels has faced that has grown significantly over the years is the number of people using social media to spread misinformation.

“What’s particularly disturbing is how many people think conservation officers enjoy killing animals,” he said.

Pauwels said people are entitled to their opinion, but it’s a “despicable thing to say”.

He added in his 30 years of work. He has never met a conservation officer who enjoys this part of the job.

“When we kill animals, there is a valid reason for it. I used to do a lot of media, print, TV and radio but quit a few years ago because of all the negativity,” he said.

“The remaining conservation officers are dedicated and hardworking professionals who should be treated with respect as they have a tough job to do.”

Pauwels said he would like to see more officers hired when asked what improvements he would recommend moving forward.

“There are many places in the province that are understaffed and officers are burning out,” he said. “We are simply responsible for too much. The mandate of commanders has become so broad that it is increasingly difficult to meet public expectations without more officers.

Wild Wise Sooke community coordinator Sam Webb said Pauwels has been instrumental in helping the organization with its work. Wild Wise is dedicated to educating people about coexisting with wildlife and has expanded from East Sooke to include Metchosin, Shirley and Otter Point.

“I love Peter and have great respect for his work,” Webb said. “Wild Wise would be nothing without Peter, and we are sad to see him go. Our foundation owes him a lot. His focus has always been on education; we are grateful for his support. protect people and wildlife.

Dana Livingstone, the founder of the volunteer Wildlife Advocates Collective in East Sooke, also praised Pauwels.

“I’ve always admired the passion, dedication and compassion he brings to his work,” she said. “Peter cares about every call he has taken and has saved so many wild animals, big and small. We need more commanders like Peter on the ground, and we will miss him.

Livingstone witnessed many examples of how Pauwels was always willing to do whatever he could to help injured wildlife.

She recalls an incident in the Rockland area of ​​Victoria where a large male had a rat trap attached to his tongue. Pauwels tracked down the deer, tranquilized it, removed the trap and released the animal. Livingstone was also moved by the time Pauwels spent on another occasion trying to find an injured doe.

“It shows Peter’s dedication and willingness to go the extra mile,” she said.

Pauwels is currently a field consultant, monitoring wildlife safety in northern British Columbia

“I’m not ready for the golf course yet. I explore many opportunities related to wildlife and law enforcement.

• To learn more about Wild Wise, visit www.wildwisesociety.org.

• To learn more about the Wildlife Advocates Collective, visit their Facebook page.

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