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LETTER: Confusion remains over collection of wildlife stats

For clarity, the RAPP line is an emergency services call centre based in Victoria…

To the Editor,

Re: Wildlife conflicts down in Alberni – Dec 16, 2020.

The BC Conservation Officer Service (“BCCOS”) and Wildsafe BC continue to adopt standardized messaging that encourages the public to call emergency services call centres for “wildlife sightings.” In many cases, the public is encouraged to call the Report all Poachers and Polluters (“RAPP”) line when wildlife is sighted or encountered.

For clarity, the RAPP line is an emergency services call centre based in Victoria with a focus on dispatching armed special provincial constables (employed as conservation officers) to address immediate issues of public safety (i.e., emergencies involving wildlife) or serious environmental crimes (i.e., poaching or other matters requiring the attention of policing services). Report all Poachers and Polluters is not a call centre to “report all bear sightings.”

No, the public is not encouraged to call their wildlife sightings into the RAPP line. Think of the RAPP line as a 911 service for environmental concerns or matters where there is an immediate public safety issue involving wildlife. In fact, if you feel you are in danger, you may simply call 911 and the call will be appropriately routed to the RAPP line dispatch system for the BCCOS. Calling emergency services for wildlife sightings produces artificially inflated statistics that are not helpful when assessing the accuracy of true conflict data.

These actions also tie up important and limited policing resources that are better placed elsewhere for more serious issues.

If there is a need to collect wildlife sighting information for research purposes, a more appropriate course of action is simply to call Wildsafe BC and allow them to track their own information separate from government emergency call centres.

Dr. Bryce Casavant,

Port Alberni

ConservationWildlife