By Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko
One might think that police service dogs, or K9 units, only apply to police organizations and border services. Since 1994, Saskatchewan has included a K9 operator among its complement of field conservation officers.
During that period, three separate handlers have worked with five different dogs.
The trailblazer for the ministry’s K9 program was Inspector Daryl Minter and his dog, Scout. Their dedication and hard work set the foundation for future officers and service dogs to assist conservation officers in their duties.
Since then, we have had police service dogs Zoro, Maverick, Keela, and now Jaks, with his handler Cpl. Jamie Chartrand stationed in Prince Albert.
Jaks is a seven year old Belgian Malinois, which is a breed very similar to the German Shepherd. Malinois are used by many agencies as service dogs, as they are known for their high drive, strong work ethic and detection capabilities.
Conservation officer service dogs are general-purpose service dogs as opposed to single-purpose dogs you would find at the border or an airport for example looking for food types, drugs or other items. All of our dogs are trained in detection, tracking, and apprehension.
Jaks and his predecessors have been instrumental in many investigations, by assisting officers in locating physical evidence left or discarded by poachers. Jaks can search a large area the size of a football field, ten times faster than ten officers searching the same area, and most often locating evidence that may not have ever been found. In addition to finding physical evidence, the dogs assist in tracking wanted persons, such as those who have left the scene of a crime.
Jaks is a very social dog, so if you are interested in a visit or presentation by our K9 team, simply contact your local conservation officer who may be able to help you out.
In October, the Ministry of Environment launched a new mobile application called the Saskatchewan Co-operative Wildlife Management Survey (SK CWMS) for Saskatchewan people to record wildlife observations. Species include moose, elk, deer and select upland game birds. These observations help the ministry manage wildlife populations and the decisions for draws and quotas.
Up until recently, I was like my dad and not very technology savvy. I must confess that I am becoming quite skilled and no longer need my kids to show me how my apps work on my phone. It is quite a slick app once you get it set up. The app is available for download on your iPhone and Android devices from the Apple app store and Google Play. You can locate the app by searching for “Saskatchewan Wildlife Survey” or “SK CWMS”.
Once you download the SK CWMS app, call 1-800-567-4224 toll-free, for your participant number and activation code.
Observations are encouraged throughout the year but each game species has a key period that is most important. These are:
• White-tailed deer and mule deer: September 1 to November 30
• Moose: September 1 to December 31
• Elk: September 1 to February 28
• Sharp-tailed grouse: March 1 to July 15
• Wild Turkey: December 1 to March 1
So getting away from the public service announcements, I have to answer at least a couple of questions.
Q: Under what circumstances can a First Nation individual hunt with a non-Aboriginal person?
In Saskatchewan, it is unlawful for a non-Aboriginal person to aid, assist or hunt with a First Nation hunter who is exercising Treaty rights, unless the non-Aboriginal person is an immediate family member with a valid Treaty Assist Permit issued by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment.
For a First Nation person and a non-Aboriginal individual who are not immediate family, to hunt together, both individuals must be in possession of a valid hunting licence appropriate for the purpose of the hunt, and follow all limits and laws that apply.
If you have further questions, contact your local officer.
Q: Porcupines and raccoons are causing damage to my yard. Are they legal to shoot?
Porcupines and raccoons are two of a number of species classed as unprotected under The Wildlife Regulations. This means that a licence is not required to kill them and there is an open season. However, all safety regulations would still apply, such as no hunting at night, no hunting near occupied residences without permission or no hunting on posted land.
Rural landowners have further authorities in that they can protect their property including livestock from damage caused by carnivores (with the exception of swift fox or black-footed ferret), beaver or muskrats.
Carnivores include all predator species, except raptors (owls, hawks or eagles). Common occurrences are weasels, mink or foxes killing chickens, or larger predators such as cougars, wolves or bears encroaching on yard sites or corrals.
In these cases, landowners must immediately report any large predators they have killed to their local conservation officer.
Conservation officers are a valuable source of information regarding nuisance wildlife occurrences and can often provide advice and non-lethal techniques which can discourage animals from remaining near farm yards or limit the damage they may create.
Problem wildlife in towns or cities are another matter and these issues may be discussed in a future article.
Until next week…be sure of your target and beyond.
Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 25 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. For many years, Officer Leko contributed a column to local papers on a variety of issues related to hunting, fishing, and other resource-related issues. If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.