Ron Leblanc CO boat
episode 112 | Sep 12, 2023
Law Enforcement/Military
Hunting & Fishing
Law Enforcement/Military

Ep. 112 - Ojibwe Bear Clan / Conservation Officer - Ron Leblanc

This is the historic first time a BC Conservation Officer has spoken on a podcast. Ron is a 26 year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, having served twice in Afghanistan. Fittingly, Ron belongs to the Ojibwe Bear Clan which is known for being protectors of the people, community and the environment. Ron uses the opportunity to provide a unique perspective on the benefits and challenges faced by BC Conservation Service. Ron answers Silvercore Club members questions and provides a roadmap for those who wish to better understand how they can do their part to assist in the protection and conservation of our natural resources and insight into how you can become a C.O.
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Ep. 112 - Ojibwe Bear Clan / Conservation Officer - Ron Leblanc

[00:00:00] Travis Bader: I'm Travis Bader, and this is the Silvercore podcast. Silvercore has been providing its members with the skills and knowledge necessary to be confident and proficient in the outdoors for over 20 years. And we make it easier for people to deepen their connection to the natural world. If you enjoy the positive and educational content.

[00:00:30] Travis Bader: We provide, please let others know by sharing, commenting, and following so that you can join in on everything that Silvercore stands for. If you'd like to learn more about becoming a member of the Silvercore club and community, visit our website at silvercore. ca.

[00:00:51] Travis Bader: After 26 years in the army, serving twice in Afghanistan, our guest today brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his chosen profession. As a BC conservation officer, welcome to the Silvercore podcast, my friend, Ron LeBlanc. Well, this is a first, isn't it? 

[00:01:09] Ron Leblanc: It's a first and it's been a bit of to do to get it going.

[00:01:13] Ron Leblanc: And we're here and we're doing it. So 

[00:01:16] Travis Bader: first time in British Columbia, that a conservation officer has come on and talked on a podcast. Yeah. 

[00:01:21] Ron Leblanc: So no pressure. 

[00:01:24] Travis Bader: Well, you know, it's, You've got a really interesting history, interesting background. I put some queries out online through social media, through forums of just, you know, I didn't name who you were, but, uh, if anybody had questions for a CEO, and I think we had some interesting ones that kind of came up there, but you know, before we get into that, I thought it would be fun.

[00:01:43] Travis Bader: Just for people to get to know you, get to know you, your background, kind of how you got into where you are, are now. And you were in cadets as well when you were younger 

[00:01:51] Ron Leblanc: too, weren't you? I was a cadet, proud cadet, you know, for sure. And certainly led me to where I am today. So. 

[00:01:57] Travis Bader: I think it's done a lot for a lot of people.

[00:01:59] Travis Bader: Yeah. Myself, I know it, uh, did a lot. I was doing a podcast with Sean Taylor, XJTF2, and he's like, Oh, you went to Vernon? I went to Vernon. I don't, I know a lot of people across Canada that have gone to the Vernon cadet 

[00:02:11] Ron Leblanc: camp. Yeah. I mean, it's, uh, every time I drive by there and. And you look at those red buildings, those World War II structures that are still there and you kind of pick out the one that you maybe stayed at or, you know, had a, had a crush on a girl there and that's the hut that she was in or whatever.

[00:02:29] Ron Leblanc: And I remember those and, you know, the, the big parade square and the standing out in the sweating, sweating on a parade and all the little where the foundation of the discipline was built. Yeah, I remember. 

[00:02:42] Travis Bader: First time there were forming up on Sicily square and then, uh, getting all your kit. I'm like, what did I get myself into?

[00:02:49] Travis Bader: I'm going to be gone for a few weeks and they're yelling and screaming at me. And then it was six weeks after that one. How did you get into that? 

[00:02:59] Ron Leblanc: Um, well, I, As a kid, I played with G. I. Joes and, you know, wore camouflage and hid in the bushes and, you know, you know, watched the 80s war movies and, you know, loved all the watch mash and I just, I was always sort of interested in it, but I never really thought about joining or how that looked as a kid.

[00:03:23] Ron Leblanc: I just wasn't there. Yeah. Um, but as a young. First nations kid in the big city, kind of outside of my element. And I started hanging with the wrong crowd and I got into trouble, nothing serious, but enough trouble that I was told to do some community service. And, uh, One of the things of community service was c Cadet Corps.

[00:03:47] Ron Leblanc: I did not know about what a really a Cadet Corps thing was, and so I kind of thought it was sort of military and I was sort of interested. 'cause you know, I was already a general because I was playing with my soldiers and whatnot. And, um, so my mom, uh, had brought me down, you know, very willfully to take me to a cadet.

[00:04:08] Ron Leblanc: Corps, and the one that I recall as a little kid was the, the Beatty Street Armoury in Vancouver with the, by BC Place with the tanks out front, and that's the only sort of wreck, you know, facility that I recognized as military, and that's the only reason I chose that. And so my mom dropped me off there, and that was on a, I think it was a Wednesday, and I got enrolled, and, and I think there was some paperwork that they had to sign to, For X amount of community service hours that had to, so that was a Wednesday and, and, um, I learned that the next Friday, two days later, that cadet corps was going to.

[00:04:50] Ron Leblanc: Uh, Chilliwack, CFB Chilliwack for a shooting thing and this would have been in September, I think. And, um, the very next day on the Thursday, we went to now the defunct Westland Surplus and, and, um, I got some combats and some ill fitting boots and. What not and got kitted out and then the next day on the Friday I was at the armory and on a bus to Chilliwack and Slept in a giant building and with a bunch of people.

[00:05:19] Ron Leblanc: I didn't know and it was a little everything felt awkward and and The next day I got to fire at 22, which is the first firearm I ever got to fire and then once that you know in between I'm sure I was getting yelled at and move here and move there and eat this and hurry up and And then I got to fire the FN C1, uh, on the next day.

[00:05:40] Ron Leblanc: And that was a big, huge 7. 62 rifle. And I was, uh, you know, probably a hundred pounds soaking wet and, um. And it just, everything was just a blur and I was just ecstatic. I was soaking wet, tired, hungry, and I was like, I'm, I'm now enjoying this. And so the very next parade night, I guess it would have been Wednesday or whatever.

[00:06:03] Ron Leblanc: I, I didn't even have a cadet uniform yet, so they still had to size me. And so you're learning drill and getting yelled at by the sergeants. And it was the first sort of structure I had in my life. And it was the first time I met, um, some adults, male role models. I hadn't had that before. Some of these cadet instructors, the adults were the real sort of first, yeah, male role models that, and I still keep in touch to some of them to this day, because it really changed my path.

[00:06:34] Ron Leblanc: I was going down the wrong path and it, and it certainly showed me a different path that was, that was available to me. And I learned that. You know, if you put the work in, you put the time in. There's rewards at the end of it. And I also learned about instant discipline where I hadn't had that before. So you got corrected immediately and I, that's what I needed.

[00:06:58] Ron Leblanc: I needed that guidance and that correction. And I, I just, I liked it. I loved it. And, and I needed a focus. And I remember standing there and every, every night at the beginning of the night, they'd inspect each troop would pet their. Put their best cadet dressed that's in this uniform pressed and everything forward and the regimental sergeant major would pick the two and he would decide who's best dressed for that night and they would, they would give them this little drill cane and called it stick man.

[00:07:27] Ron Leblanc: And you're the stick man for the night. And so you got a point of pride of taking that cane around the night, knowing that you had the best uniform, boots are polished, you know, ironing and all the lint was gone and haircut. And it was, you were, so I tried to get that and every week, you know, I didn't, I wasn't even selected and you know, the odd time I was selected to be the guy and I didn't quite make it.

[00:07:51] Ron Leblanc: And then it just drove me more to try harder and harder. Eventually I became the stick man and that was a pretty proud moment for 

[00:08:00] Travis Bader: me. Isn't that funny how people crave that those boundaries, those brackets, whether you're young or you're old. I think everybody wants to know where their boundaries are and you know, I learned that in just working with other people and managing people, I'd be like, I would want someone just to leave me alone.

[00:08:19] Travis Bader: Trust me, I can do this. I know how to do things. Right. So I would. I would do the same for somebody else. And that can be misinterpreted as somebody not caring if you. Provide those boundaries and let a person know when they're outside of it, especially at a young age, holy crow, what, what that does for a person as they get older.

[00:08:38] Travis Bader: And I know the cadet system did a lot from, for me, when I look at others around me that were, um, who I was hanging out with, similar to you, they didn't end up in the same place. And I can't say it was 100% the case.

[00:08:55] Ron Leblanc: And just look what happens when you don't put any boundaries or left or right of arcs on someone and see how that turns out. Totally. 

[00:09:02] Travis Bader: So then you decided, okay, army, that's for me. I want to be. 

[00:09:07] Ron Leblanc: Well, in my world, we're still small then and I only knew about the cadets and I kind of knew that there was a regimental affiliation to a reserve unit or militia unit and the regular force units and so I got a little bit of exposure to those guys and every now and then they would take a deserving cadet on an exercise with them and A couple of years into it, I happened to be one of those deserving cadets and I got to go on and exercise with the, with the army and, and, um, that's when I realized that as soon as I could, I'm joining the military.

[00:09:41] Ron Leblanc: And I was so eager, I attempted to join in grade 10. I hadn't graduated grade 10 yet, and I just wanted out of the situation I was in at home, I needed to get away and I wanted to just go and join the military. So I went to the recruiting office and they're like, no, no, son, you need grade 10 to graduate grade 10.

[00:10:01] Ron Leblanc: And I'm like. I have to go back because I had quit school and everything and I wasn't doing well in school. I wasn't doing, I was just focused on getting into the military. So then the recruiter told me, you need to go back in minimum grade 10 and your parents got assigned for you. So I went back to grade, re enrolled in school because I got kicked out of school for, you know, attendance and fighting.

[00:10:21] Ron Leblanc: And I was, you know, like I said, down that bad path. And then the, the recruiter told me you need to get your grade 10. So I went back to school and I had to focus on a mission. Became the top student that year. Did you really? I did. I got a, they even gave me a 300 bursary. Holy crow. And, uh, I brought my mom with me to the recruiter and...

[00:10:43] Ron Leblanc: I had my letter of being the top student, my grade 10 diploma, and I'm like, I'm joining the military. Wow. Right? And so I did. I joined the military. And I, you know, later on in life, I had to, I paid for it later cause I had to get, I wanted my grade 12 and, and, uh, you go to work and then after you go to night school and that, you know, I really should have just completed my grade 12 and then joined after.

[00:11:06] Ron Leblanc: I was too eager. Um, uh, to join and, but I sort of paid for it. Like it was, it sucked racing home and shoving food down your neck and then going to class at night. And yeah. 

[00:11:17] Travis Bader: Yeah. It's a bit of work. I was lucky to go through, you know, school system wasn't, uh, school's not built for everybody. Some people do really well in school.

[00:11:25] Travis Bader: I look at my daughter, she's doing fantastic in school. My son does great as well. And for me, I ended up going to. Yeah. I went to three. 

[00:11:35] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. Um, Um, I went to Templeton, uh, Van Tech and Britannia. Yeah. So East Van Boy. Yeah. And yeah, I struggled in school. You know, I was often the only Brown person in the room.

[00:11:50] Ron Leblanc: And sometimes, you know, I was, uh, I stuck up for myself. Sure. 

[00:11:56] Travis Bader: Put it that way. Yeah, I hear ya. Um, well in school, I could see that being difficult in the, in the army. I. 

[00:12:07] Ron Leblanc: Uh, yeah, I was often the only Brown person in the room and I joined, when I elected to join the OCA crisis was going on and I was back home visiting, um, my family in Manitoba where I'm originally from and, and we're from a reserve called Ebb and Flow, it's a Ghibli reserve and the OCA thing was in full swing and, and, and, and, um, It was, I was not popular amongst my grandma and my uncles and aunts to join the military.

[00:12:37] Ron Leblanc: But that, for whatever reason, it didn't bug me or deter me, I still wanted to join. And, cause I had grown up with me not being afraid of who I am. I didn't think, I would stand up to any challenge in the military that way as well. So it did, I already had to have been exposed to it, so I didn't care. And I wasn't afraid of it, like bring it on.

[00:12:58] Ron Leblanc: Like I'm, I'm still just, I'm not any better than you, but I'm not any worse. 

[00:13:04] Travis Bader: So, you know, the problem with, we spent the, uh, the day yesterday hanging out and I got to see what you do with, uh, for work. And it's, uh, I tell you this much, uh, If I were to go back in time a little bit, I think I'd want to be a conservation officer.

[00:13:19] Travis Bader: I mean, that's totally suited to somebody with an ADHD lifestyle, who's self motivated and who, uh, loves the outdoors. I mean, just fantastic. But the problem that, uh, sometimes is. We'll talk ahead of time and there's a lot of really good details that you left out of those two stories that you just told, but, um, um, maybe it's for the best that we don't, uh, release all of that information.

[00:13:43] Travis Bader: Yeah. Um, you decided what, after 26 years, now I, I want to get into the CO service. 

[00:13:53] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. I mean, there's always been. I've always been interested in outdoors and nature and animals and critters and, and law enforcement, you know, I've always had, it was there, but I just didn't know what that looked like or what I thought maybe it was a park ranger.

[00:14:11] Ron Leblanc: I didn't know. I just know I wanted to do that. And I didn't really know what that was, what agency is attached to that. Um, and so I had gotten back from my, I had done a little research online and I, you know, you needed a degree or diploma and I didn't have, I had some of that training in the military and we use some accreditations from, you know, other universities gives its equivalencies and some of the training and courses we do and whatnot.

[00:14:38] Ron Leblanc: And so I just didn't think I was qualified. I didn't meet their minimum expectations, what they're asking for. And, and I was in a bit of a slump after my second deployment and wasn't really sure if I wanted to stay in the military. And, uh, so I, I took a chance at, I applied, I, I sent, I didn't apply. I sent an email.

[00:15:01] Ron Leblanc: Um, To the recruiting service or to the recruiting email, just in a, just to see what they'd come back with, you know, as a kind of a lot. I had applied for DFO before that actually, and got, I wrote the test and, and, um, listened to their talk and it was kind of what I wanted to do, but not really. It just was a little bit too specific.

[00:15:23] Ron Leblanc: I wanted more than just, I mean, the DFO are great, but I, You know, I kind of wanted something a little different than that as well, a broader spectrum of broader. Yeah. And so anyways, I get an, I send out an email and I get an email back and lo and behold, the recruiting sergeant is a guy I served with in Afghanistan.

[00:15:42] Ron Leblanc: What are the odds? I didn't know his name is Mike was Mike solely. And he was a An officer and he was in the PsyOps platoon and I had worked the platoon or the job I did work closely with the PsyOps platoon. So he knew me, knew my reputation and I asked him, um, Hey man, like you have a similar background to me, you're a CO and like, how'd that go?

[00:16:07] Ron Leblanc: I know you don't have a natural resource law enforcement degree like they're asking for. He goes, well, I have some education and I have some relevant experience. And they. Took that as good enough And he says all I can do is is just get you to apply and we'll look at it. Hmm. So I put my package together Sent it off.

[00:16:28] Ron Leblanc: And then while I was deployed on my second time overseas and in Afghanistan I got an email from the recruiting section saying that I got hired And I'll be posted to mission and, uh, and you have to be in the academy in like a month and I'm halfway through my deployment and it was heartbreaking because I had to decline that opportunity.

[00:16:51] Ron Leblanc: I was in 2013. Um, but the good news is they said, well, you'll, you'll be on a list eligibility list for a year. And, and, uh, if, if we're still hiring next year, if there's positions and depending on where you're ranked. You don't have to go through the whole system again. Right. So, I came back from my deployment and I immediately cancelled all my full time contracts because I didn't want to be...

[00:17:16] Ron Leblanc: Have anything to hold me back. So I was now a reservist. Again, a part time soldier. And waiting for the call. And I think it was around May that Yeah, it was, no, maybe it was later than that. Cause I It would have been in July or August. That I got the, yeah. You're going to the academy and this academy started, I think, the first week of September that year in Hinton, Alberta.

[00:17:40] Ron Leblanc: And so, uh, yeah, a couple, a couple of weeks later, the recruiting sergeant, Mike Soley, that I mentioned swung by my house with a giant cardboard box full of gear, uniforms and duty belts. And, you know, you know, and the rest of the, the good stuff was delivered to the academy. But then I got my initial set up.

[00:17:59] Ron Leblanc: And I had no even clue how to put a duty belt on, or how it clips together, or didn't know any of that. How exciting. Very exciting. And I, I don't, I had the new, all the brand new toy feel, right? Of course. You know, flashlights and blah blah blah. So yeah, and then I started my journey as a... Conservation officer in September.

[00:18:18] Ron Leblanc: And I did my, my, uh, recruit training and, uh, and then I, my probation period after that. And my first posting was Burns Lake. 

[00:18:27] Travis Bader: Well, you did pretty good on your, uh, on your training there, didn't you? Didn't you, uh, come top of your class? 

[00:18:33] Ron Leblanc: I was voted valedictorian, which, which is pretty special because it's, it's voted by your peers.

[00:18:39] Ron Leblanc: That's pretty cool. Um, and I had, I was just, I was twice the age of everybody there. I was 41 when I went through and most people were in their early 20s. And the academy, um, all the classes that were, that I took, I, I'm not saying I'm all that, but I didn't struggle with anything. What I struggled with was my.

[00:19:02] Ron Leblanc: The, the age gap with my peers and, you know, they just had different interests and motivations than I did. It took me a really long time to get to that point in life to, to be there. And I was so just grateful to be there. And I made a point of just every day working, doing the best I could and doing, doing as much as I could to make sure that I'm standing on the parade at the end for.

[00:19:30] Travis Bader: So your first deployment, when he came out of training, you're, you said you're in Burns Lake there? Yeah. What was that like? 

[00:19:37] Ron Leblanc: Well, I knew where Burns Lake was because, uh, for a stint in the military, I did a four year, Recruiting Sergeant job in B. C. and I was in a specialized recruiting unit at the time that was for diversity recruiting and I specialize in First Nations and getting First Nations to apply to the military.

[00:20:00] Ron Leblanc: There's the representation. And the military was quite low. I happened to be the right color and they really wanted me to, to do that. And I really enjoyed that. And it was one of the highlights of my, my career was that four year stint. And, and because of that, I did a lot of road show traveling. I mean, in the SUV packed with gear and going to reserves and talking to the elders and doing presentations and Burns Lake had passed through a number of times.

[00:20:24] Ron Leblanc: So I knew where it was. My wife didn't know where it was. And we were at a condo in Poco and she was established as a teacher and I was just about to start a new job and I had, now was only doing the reservist thing because I didn't want to commit to any work for obvious reasons and so we, we elected to do a road trip north to camping and to come up to Burns Lake to see where we're going to be living and meet the, The officers that I'd be working with.

[00:20:54] Ron Leblanc: And my sergeant at the time was in Smithers an hour and a half up the road from Burns Lake. So we, we made a bit of a road trip and camping trip. And then we met my supervisor, my future supervisor, and some of the guys I was going to work with. Got to see the area and, and um... You know, next thing you know, I was at the academy and then we're looking at trying to buy a house when we posted here and all that fun stuff.

[00:21:19] Ron Leblanc: Well, what's 

[00:21:19] Travis Bader: your wife think of Burns Lake? 

[00:21:21] Ron Leblanc: Oh, it's, it's small, it's a small town. It is like 2000 people. It's a rough for it's like for game warden work. Amazing. Yeah. For her, she's a French immersion teacher. There is no French immersion program there now, but at the time there was, so she got a job. Um, teaching French immersion there at one of the, at the local elementary school.

[00:21:44] Ron Leblanc: So, I mean, all that worked and they hired her on the spot because they really need, you know, qualified teachers there. And, and so we made it, we, I mean, we had a great time there. Um, we did our two year posting there and. And then, um, I think it wasn't big enough for us and, and law enforcement in a small town has its challenges.

[00:22:06] Travis Bader: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that at some point here. That's going to be, uh, 

[00:22:10] Ron Leblanc: interesting. Yeah, and, um, it was one of the motivating, they were going to potentially get rid of the French Immersion Program. So it was that for her and she really wanted to teach the French program and, and the town was a little too small.

[00:22:25] Ron Leblanc: Or, I just felt I was almost trapped at home a lot of the time. Uh, you, when you're off duty and you go out, people know who you are. Uh, they know you're the game warden. And, you're never really off duty. Uh, someone wants to talk to you about something. Which is fine, if they don't, you know. But you, you just kind of want your time, when it's your time.

[00:22:47] Ron Leblanc: You need that to recharge. Or they would, people would, you know, I've had people come to my house when I'm not there, banging on the door, demanding I give back their seized antlers or whatever, something like that. And it's just not, uh, a family, uh, situation I, I want. I can see that, yeah. Yeah, and it just never felt like you could truly just relax and unwind and, you know.

[00:23:12] Ron Leblanc: Go to the restaurant and you recognize the cook from a file that, you know. 

[00:23:17] Travis Bader: Yeah, that's got to be the joys of small town policing like anywhere. It's, uh, yeah, you're, you're, you're gonna have to be walking around with your head in a swivel. 

[00:23:25] Ron Leblanc: Yeah, and I like to go out into the town and enjoy restaurants and you know, all that stuff.

[00:23:30] Ron Leblanc: And I just felt I was, I was trapped in a small town like that. And so we kind of looked for an alternative posting that when it came available and when When it, uh, when a town that we wanted maybe had come up, we would put it, we'd put a package together and then there's a bit of a competition to see who gets it.

[00:23:49] Ron Leblanc: And then that's, and so we, we ended up moving to Williams Lake and we did three years in Williams Lake. And then, like I said, I've been in Smithers here for about three, just over three years now. And you know, when we were in Burns Lake, um, I had made the mistake of bringing my wife to Smithers an hour and a half off the road on the weekend.

[00:24:10] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. And she was upset. Why couldn't you get us posted here? Oh, it's beautiful here. Yeah, it is amazing. 

[00:24:15] Travis Bader: So I've done some hunting in the Williams Lake area, and I can imagine that there's. Probably a fair bit of work for a conservation officer to do up there, just based on my observations and what I've seen, that could be, um, a pretty busy area.

[00:24:29] Ron Leblanc: It's a population 10 there, plus the, there's all the surrounding communities, very big deer hunting. Uh, population there, you can, there's moose and elk and there's salmon, there's everything there. It's, it's the posting that I think offers for me, the most variety of terrain and type of work. It's just, it's an amazing place to work.

[00:24:52] Ron Leblanc: And, uh, because it's close to Vancouver and some of the bigger centers, it's a day drive. Um, you know, uh, a person from Vancouver could be up and hunting that evening. So you have a big hunter base and you have a lot of call volume because you have a lot of people. So you're hopping busy in a community like that.

[00:25:15] Travis Bader: So, you know, I have some questions out here. I figured it's only right that we go through a few of these ones. Some are a little bit interesting. Uh, some I think are really good here. We had one person write in and he wanted to know, like, how do you become a conservation officer? How many conservation officers are there out there?

[00:25:35] Travis Bader: What's the process like? Is it pretty competitive? Is it hard to get into? Yeah. What, what does that look like? 

[00:25:41] Ron Leblanc: Um, well for me, my, the way I came to the CO service was a little unique from everybody else. The generic sort of common path into the service is essentially a person has to go to a, you know, there's a few colleges that offer natural resource law enforcement, VIU or Lethbridge, maybe Fleming, some others.

[00:26:04] Ron Leblanc: And they do a a two year diploma or a degree in natural resource law enforcement or some sort of similar field. And then typically, uh, you would do a couple years as maybe a seasonal officer somewhere, maybe a park warden or, uh, invasive species inspector or some something to get some seasonal work and so,

[00:26:29] Ron Leblanc: It's very common. You apply more than once because you may not get through the first time. So essentially what happens is we hire once a year And I can speak with a little bit of authority because I I had just I'm just finishing up in July I did six months as the training sergeant and recruiting sergeant.

[00:26:45] Ron Leblanc: So and I was part of the last hiring panel So I got a little bit of exposure on how it works, but Essentially we hire once a year and I think we're hiring the first I think it opens up September, the first week of September. We're starting our process again for two weeks period and go on to the government website and you'll see the job for the conservation officer and the instructions there.

[00:27:08] Ron Leblanc: But basically you're submitting a resume and then the The training recruiting team will vet those, and they'll pick whatever number that is that meet the qualifications. And there's no set number, it's just how many people that actually meet the qualifications, and they vet them from there. And then you're invited to uh, uh, to an interview.

[00:27:30] Ron Leblanc: Okay. 

[00:27:30] Travis Bader: Well, what, what kind of qualifications would kind of set a person apart if they're looking at it? 

[00:27:35] Ron Leblanc: Well, uh, this is a standard driver's license. You need your core, you need your firearms license. Um, uh, you need to have the medical and all that stuff will come later. But, um, Your first aid certificate, your WHMIS, and, and then some sort of proof that you've, uh, are in school or have done schooling or something relevant, uh, in the education side.

[00:28:00] Ron Leblanc: Hmm. Um, if you haven't done, like me, a natural resource background, but I have some other credits from university and tied with my military stuff, and articulating that in your application may be enough to get you through to that interview phase. And that, that's the, the way I found my way in, but typically it's, they're in a, they are in a program specifically to become, you know, a game warden or a fisheries officer or, or something, and it may be the first year or two, maybe the same as what the biologists are taking or like, so they're, I think VIU has now accelerated one year program where they tie in some other training that you've done or other courses and they tie into a one year specific.

[00:28:45] Ron Leblanc: Wow. Um, so we've had, you know, We've had that program, I think last year was the first year they started. But I, I can tell you from when I started ten years ago till now, we're hiring people before they're even graduated. You're hungry for them. We're hungry for them because we're competing with the police, the military, other law enforcement agencies, other game warden agencies, fisheries officers.

[00:29:09] Ron Leblanc: So we're all competing for the same sort of group of people. And so we're hiring them quicker and they're going to the academy younger and they're being deployed younger, less life experience. Um, yeah, so basically once you're at the phase where you're, I think the hardest part Is getting to the interview, okay For me, that's where I think the challenge is, where most people get vetted out.

[00:29:34] Ron Leblanc: Once you have an interview, now it's yours to lose. Right. I think. And so there are, there may be some homework assigned to you that you may have to present in front of the hiring panel. There may be some written exams done there. There'll probably be some role plays, some direct questions, and it's all graded on by the panel, and then you're, you get a percentage assigned to you, and then once.

[00:29:59] Ron Leblanc: All the applicants are through. We kind of pick, well not pick, I guess it's based on their percentages and high, high, how many positions we have. We take X amount that are through, I mean at the top, whatever percent, and offer them a job. And, and then there's the medical and psychology, psych test, and there's also, uh, Like, uh, not a lie detector test, but a digital voice stress thing and sort of background checks.

[00:30:26] Ron Leblanc: A form of a polygraph? Yeah, like a polygraph, a back, you know, it's the same as what a police agency would have. It's. 

[00:30:32] Travis Bader: Is the psych assessment one of those multiple choice, hundreds of 

[00:30:35] Ron Leblanc: questions, those bubbles? I remember it was something like 900 questions or something like that. I 

[00:30:39] Travis Bader: remember when I was 18 years old and I got hired by an armored car company and that was part of the hiring process.

[00:30:44] Travis Bader: And they do a psychological profile and I go through there and I'm like, I want to make sure I do really good. Remember every question, every answer. And I got to remember, uh, variations on it. Cause you, yeah, you're asked the same thing over and over again. In different ways. Yeah. In different ways. And so I'm like, I got to remember all of this.

[00:31:00] Travis Bader: So I go through there, I submit my psych exam, it comes back. It says, um, you failed. It's too black and white. They're looking, they're looking for a level of, of variance inside here. Yeah. And I'm like, no, no, no. I would, I answered this thing perfectly. So he says, well, do it again. So they do it again. And it goes through and.

[00:31:18] Travis Bader: It says two black and white again, right? It's either, you don't have that middle ground. Anyways, um, they ended up hiring me, despite that. They said, okay, fair enough, maybe you're just a black and white sort of personality. They, 

[00:31:31] Ron Leblanc: uh, when I wrote mine, it was in Vancouver, and the lady that was administering it said, after it was all done, you're like, any questions?

[00:31:39] Ron Leblanc: I'm like, yeah, I actually have a question. One of the questions asked the same sort of thing, a couple different ways, and it was, does your Father like flowers or something like that. And I said, I can't answer that question. And she's like, well, it's like it was a yes or no. True or false thing. And I'm like, I don't, I've never, I don't know my father.

[00:31:55] Ron Leblanc: I've never met him. So how do I know what kind of flowers he's like? I can't. She'll just put one. I said, I can't. Well, I'm answering it falsely then. So, so she didn't know quite what to say. She's like, well, put this one down. Yeah, exactly. 

[00:32:12] Travis Bader: That's funny. And then what sort of attributes would a person have that, uh, would kind of set them apart in the, let's say the interview phase?

[00:32:21] Ron Leblanc: Um, common sense, accountability, uh, the ability to triage, uh, flexibility. And those are all really important traits. And if, I think if you're missing any of those, you're not going to do so well. I don't think you won't, you'll struggle. Well, 

[00:32:40] Travis Bader: watching you yesterday and just knowing you, people skills have to be pretty high on the, on the list there as well.

[00:32:46] Travis Bader: Cause you're dealing with all different walks of life. Um, yeah. What, what would the average day look like for a conservation officer? 

[00:32:55] Ron Leblanc: Well, there is no average day. And that's, that's, that's the appeal. Yes, and you know, I tried to, you tried to put a plan together to, uh, maybe do a patrol of a certain river or, uh, patrol a certain area.

[00:33:11] Ron Leblanc: And, uh, those quickly get sidelined by a call of another nature, maybe you have to assist in a search and rescue, or maybe your supervisor doesn't want you in the office for some other reason, or maybe there's a search warrant they need a hand on, or it's just, you just kind of have to be prepared for everything, and, and then having the ability to, to realize what's important, what it In your list of things that's happening right now.

[00:33:40] Ron Leblanc: What is the priority priority? Is it a public safety thing to do with a bear? Is it a poaching thing in progress? Is it the car crash that you've just suddenly come upon and there's people injured? Is it the Financing lunch claim thing that your sergeant's been bugging you about maybe? Can wait another day.

[00:34:04] Ron Leblanc: You have a court case, maybe you have to prepare for that. Like, there's just so many aspects of the job that you can't be prepared. You have to be prepared for everything. Um, and some days it actually works out. And one of the, you know, I'm going, I'm getting on the jet boat and we're going to check anglers.

[00:34:24] Ron Leblanc: And the sooner you get out of cell phone service, the better. 

[00:34:29] Travis Bader: Then the plane can stay on track. Yeah. 

[00:34:32] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. And, and, uh, I think to me that's one of the appealing parts of the job is the diversity in the job. And, and of course it also depends on where you're posted. And because, you know, the lower lane man COs, um, may be dealing with some different things than we're dealing with.

[00:34:46] Ron Leblanc: And their seasons are going to be different than our seasons. They're not going to be doing caribou closure patrols in the Lower Mainland. And that's a, you know, a thing we do here. Great. They're not checking moose hunters in, in Victoria. 

[00:35:00] Travis Bader: Right, right. So. Oh man, you guys got bears out here right now. Yeah, it's busy.

[00:35:05] Travis Bader: Going by the oatfield there, I think, what did we count? Seven or eight bears there. Yeah, just lots of bears. You're probably getting a ton of calls on those 

[00:35:12] Ron Leblanc: right now. Yeah, it's, it is that year that I have never had a year like this with bears. And it's just, it's a triaging of what's, what's important and what needs to be actioned and what can be managed.

[00:35:26] Travis Bader: So one question that came up was about the grizzly bear, cause there's a moratorium on grizzly bear hunting in BC. Have you noticed or heard from other conservation officers that there's increased pressure with grizzly bears? I know some, I know. Uh, we hear things from, uh, Teltan and, and other places, anecdotal stories.

[00:35:45] Travis Bader: Have you heard anything on that? 

[00:35:47] Ron Leblanc: Our call volume with grizzly bears, I don't think really has increased. However, I mean, talking from hunters that are doing flying hunts and some of the remote hunting camps are reporting more encounters with grizzly bears. Yes. 

[00:36:01] Travis Bader: So let me just pull up a couple of others here.

[00:36:04] Travis Bader: Um. This one says, how do conservation officers view their position? Is it more community police role or focus on enforcement through ticketing? What's, uh, what's the, um, the 

[00:36:17] Ron Leblanc: balance? Well, I think, And a lot of these towns were posted in our smaller towns, like Smithers is only 5, 000 people or so. And the locals refer to us as our conservation officer, not the conservation officer.

[00:36:33] Ron Leblanc: Oh, that's cool. So that's, that's an, so you're integrated into the community. My wife's a teacher. They know her husband is a game warden. Um, and. You have to, I think, have to be part of your job is vol volunteering. You know, I help out with some other things around town and, and just integrating into the community and showing that you're part of it, even though you may not have been born here or anything like that, that you're really trying to fit in and just be available.

[00:37:07] Ron Leblanc: And not that you treat the locals any different from someone that's passing through, but you know, you still gotta have a. a firm hand when you need to with the locals, just like anybody else. And there's no special treatment, but at the same time, realizing you still got to live in that community. It's a, it's a tough balance.

[00:37:25] Travis Bader: Well, yeah. And you've got a difficult balance here too. Cause your, your background Ojibwe, uh, First Nations community here in the Smithers area. How is, how does that work? How do you, how do you balance that? Cause there's, there was a number of questions that came up about First Nations hunting and what the enforcement look like.

[00:37:43] Travis Bader: And it's, that's such a complex question. Cause there's so many different, um, bands throughout, um. Through British Columbia. Yeah. That, uh, uh, but they all get that, that blanket First Nations, um, uh, label put on 

[00:37:58] Ron Leblanc: them. Yeah. Yeah. And, and again, I'm a unique, there's a couple First Nations cos in our outfit and.

[00:38:06] Ron Leblanc: At times I think I get ridden a little harder by the First Nations because I'm First Nations and in an enforcement role. And they look, sometimes they look at me as a traitor, hurting my own people. And on the other side, they're really happy and proud to see me in the job I am as First Nations. And so I get a bit of both.

[00:38:26] Ron Leblanc: Um, but I also can relate to a lot of the encounters we have with First Nations. I've been there, I get it. I grew up in that environment. I understand. And I know, and I'm well versed in what the title rights are and traditional territories and how it all, the enforcement rules on how that works. And when I'm trying to explain that to some of the First Nations, they buy into it a little bit more because I'm First Nations and they can see it from my end.

[00:38:55] Ron Leblanc: So I'm able to step with one foot on either end of the fence in that world. Hmm. And. You know how we have a little, in B. C. we have a little different enforcement, uh, way of doing business with, compared to say, Alberta or Saskatchewan, and we're very much Uh, First Nations can harvest in their traditional territory and, and kind of, if you are a status from say Saskatoon or something, and you're here out of season and you just shoot a moose and you still have a status card, well, we treat you no different than anybody else shooting a moose out of season.

[00:39:36] Ron Leblanc: Mm. Yeah. You have to be, uh, from that First Nation in that traditional territory, um, so that, that, there's a little difference there with BC. We don't have all the big treaties like the Prairies do. We have a small part of Treaty 8 in the north. Yep. Um, but other than that, it, we don't in the rest of the province.

[00:39:58] Ron Leblanc: Uniquely, we do have memorandums of understanding with some of the bans. Um, so in this go, we're getting, you know, have Implemented with cooperation from us, and we've drafted an enforceable memorandum of, of, uh, for instance, cow, there's, you can't shoot a cow moose. Um, and they'll have a draw for bull moose on their band in their traditional territory, and they'll share the list with us of who in their band is allowed to harvest a bull moose within these dates.

[00:40:29] Ron Leblanc: Anybody outside of that. We're free to prosecute just like anybody else. 

[00:40:34] Travis Bader: Holy crow. And this is something they voluntarily came up with? 

[00:40:38] Ron Leblanc: In conjunction with us, yeah. And there's also in Williams Lake area and a few other places around the province, we have a memorandum. Like Williams Lake ban, you can't shoot a cow moose out of season.

[00:40:51] Ron Leblanc: And so depending on the band, it depends on how, um, what sort of restrictions they want to place. Um, but we have a First Nations cell in our agency, and they sort of spearhead that effort. Uh, we do guardian training to help some of the local First Nations help, uh, with being our eyes and ears, and maybe if they're first on scene collecting, preserving the scene, or maybe asking some of the questions that we need to be asked, or...

[00:41:19] Ron Leblanc: So we have, uh... I think we're not there yet, but we still need to develop that relationship, and it's getting better. It's certainly better than when I joined, and it can, it can only get better. 

[00:41:30] Travis Bader: No kidding. Well, it's nice when everyone kind of recognizes the need to be able to protect the resources that we have.

[00:41:37] Travis Bader: Yeah, 

[00:41:38] Ron Leblanc: I mean, we have to work together. There's no way around it. We're not going to get anywhere if we're divided and we're stronger together and that's, I think, how we need to move forward. 

[00:41:48] Travis Bader: Another question that came up was what are some of the most typical things that you find as a conservation officer both on the fishing side as well as on the hunting side?

[00:41:57] Travis Bader: What are the common infractions that people make either knowingly or unknowingly? 

[00:42:03] Ron Leblanc: Okay. Well, fishing, I mean, we're in the Skeena and we have, you know, the Buckley and the Maurice and, and the Kispiox. And these are some of the, the most, uh, well producing salmon and steelhead fishing rivers and anywhere.

[00:42:17] Ron Leblanc: It's amazing. People could fly from all over the world to, uh, to fish here and the locals enjoy it too. Um, and any stream in BC. Or river, you cannot have a barbed hook. Mm-hmm. . And that's one of the most, uh, common violations. Um, the other parts of that is people just not doing their, their homework before getting on a piece of piece of river.

[00:42:45] Ron Leblanc: And they may not understand the regulations on that particular piece of water and, and just. Thinking it's the same as a lake and maybe not realize that you can't keep a fish under 30 centimeters or more than, say, two over 50 centimeters. Or maybe there's no retention of a particular species. So those are sort of the common ones that we see.

[00:43:09] Ron Leblanc: And it can get, it can be complicated when you're fishing for salmon in fresh water because you're referring to DFO's website of what you can retain and where, and then you got to overlay the BC regulations on top of that, and I get it's confusing. And if, I mean for us it's confusing, there's, we don't write those regulations, we have maybe a little input.

[00:43:29] Ron Leblanc: And then whatever gets pumped out in the end, we got to interpret that. Right. And we hope the public interprets that too. So, I know for me personally, because there's, there's a lot to remember, I don't have a great memory. I have to, every time I get on a new piece of water or even an old piece of water, I refresh my memory, go look at the regulations so I know what I'm talking about, I know what I'm looking for.

[00:43:50] Ron Leblanc: And it, it can all fold into one if you don't. Really focus on, um, what particular body of water you're on. And so to expect the public to do that, too, you gotta have kid gloves on at times. And, you know, there's something to be said for someone that doesn't do any due diligence or homework and just goes out.

[00:44:09] Ron Leblanc: So, you know, there's a time and place, and then there's, you know, maybe someone that's a new Canadian that's trying to integrate and starting, they got a license, and they just maybe not. Understanding how it all works and that's where you got to have that discretion. 

[00:44:25] Travis Bader: What about on the hunting side? What are some of the more common things you see?

[00:44:29] Ron Leblanc: Uh, hunting out of your MU when you enter draws, like there's that game, there's, you know, a loaded firearm in your vehicle. It's a safety consideration. Yeah. You know, consuming alcohol while you're operating a vehicle or operating a firearm is a, another one or impairment, you know, through marijuana or other substances.

[00:44:48] Ron Leblanc: Those, some more, those are more of the serious ones, uh, you know, uh, evidence of sex attached, or maybe the transport regulations on when you're bringing an animal to and from, um, you know, maybe not having evidence of sex attached, or a chunk of hide, or maybe they didn't take out all the meat, or maybe they've separated it, and someone, they've sent someone home with half the meat, and they didn't give them the proper documentation to take, so if they do go through a game check, and they got half a moose with them, and they can't explain it, things can get hairy, right?

[00:45:18] Ron Leblanc: Yes. Yes. Yes. So there, you know, just some, those are some of the more common ones and, um, but, you know, a lot of that can be resolved by looking at the regulations and if you're having trouble understanding them, which I get, again, because it can be confusing, is contacting us through the website. You can email and that Bridget You want to talk to CO and Smithers area or whatever and that just gets down to us and we phone numbers provide we'll call we'll try to call them back and try to give some guidance and maybe answer some questions and I would much rather prefer that than having to deal with you in an enforcement role because You had messed up somewhere and now there's some You know, and you could be serious, you could be just a ticket, 

[00:46:02] Travis Bader: you know.

[00:46:02] Travis Bader: I'm surprised at how many people don't realize that they can just contact the CEO and ask their questions. I mean, what a valuable resource it is. And we've, we've used it on a number of occasions in the past. Like, you know, there's some areas that it can be a little bit tricky and it's, uh, it can be interpreted maybe in a few different ways.

[00:46:18] Travis Bader: So you want to know the way that it's being interpreted from a, from a legal standpoint. Yeah. And I. If I can get that in writing, even better, because if I run into somebody else, whether it's a CO or, um, anyone else in an enforcement capacity, and they're, if, if it's confusing for me, it might be confusing for them.

[00:46:34] Travis Bader: So having that, that little piece of document that you've done your due diligence and it provides clear outlines. 

[00:46:39] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. And, you know, at the same time, you're talking to somebody that's coming up and you've provided them some information. They're very helpful. They're really, um. Glad that you talked to them and their help, you know, and so next thing, you know, they're phoning in with a tip for you.

[00:46:54] Ron Leblanc: Mm hmm. And so you've just gained, you know, an extra set of eyes out there. Mm hmm. There's only 148 of us and in my region, there's four of us to patrol 177 square kilometers. It's the size of Greece. Mm hmm. And an extra set of eyes goes a long way. Well, that's 

[00:47:12] Travis Bader: one of the questions was, what can we do to help?

[00:47:14] Travis Bader: It was the, the question, what, what can hunters and anglers out there do to help the COs? Because you always hear people griping when they see someone doing something that's offside and that's frustrating because you're doing, you're playing by the rules, you're doing things right. And you look to your side to see someone doing it offside, what can they do?

[00:47:31] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. I mean, just collecting, first off, don't intervene with directly with the person cause that could lead to some, you know, get yourself in trouble. Yeah. People can be. You never know what's going to happen, but, you know, understanding that you have understanding what the regulations are. And if you know that there's, there, there, there's something that's not right there, or maybe we should know about it, you know, a license plate, a location, direction of travel, phone right away, if you can, you know, finding out the next day.

[00:48:03] Ron Leblanc: After the person is long gone doesn't help. And you know, if obviously you if you're in cell phone service and you call the wrap line And it's a violation in progress. We're going to try to attend a violation of progress If we're able to go we're going to go Um, but, you know, those details, he's, you know, what kind of truck it is with the license plate, it's headed this way, he's wearing this, this is what I observed, all that's going to become very helpful for us, um, if we can, if we're able to catch up with the person and have a chat with them.

[00:48:34] Ron Leblanc: Have 

[00:48:34] Travis Bader: you been able to use third party video or photos provided by the public to, um, to actually do enforcement? For sure, yeah. 

[00:48:41] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. And there's other, other, um, Technology that we're, you know, if we're able to use like Just like any other police agency, we can, we can get that information or video footage or whatever.

[00:48:55] Ron Leblanc: But honestly, the best information we get is the one that's closest time to the violation and from first hand account. And then we may be asking you to provide a statement to help us with our case, should it go, uh, Uh, in an enforcement role or enforcement action. 

[00:49:13] Travis Bader: That was one of the interesting things that, uh, appeals to me if I were to be a CO is the fact that if you're building a case, you see that case all the way through from start to finish.

[00:49:22] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. That's one of the cool things about our job is as a field officer. Uh, you're, you're starting the file and you're ending the file, and that includes gathering the evidence, taking statements, maybe doing firearms, sending it off for firearms forensics or DNA, photographs, logging the evidence, doing your report to Crown, talking with Crown, going to court, submitting evidence, Doing, uh, working with your, your Crown adjudicator, your Crown lawyer, sentencing, and follow up.

[00:49:56] Ron Leblanc: And then, maybe even, uh, license action on the individual. So, forfeiture of items, all of that. I mean, you're, you're at start to finish. Where we don't have, we have a major investigations, uh, general investigations unit in our outfit that handles some bigger, sort of, uh, Uh, big files, but for the average CO, you're, you are the handler for that file from start to finish.

[00:50:23] Ron Leblanc: You don't have any, anybody to hand it off to, like you kind of, you do it all and it's really cool because I was talking to somebody about, um, a moose that was, uh, shot and left and, uh, it was in my berms like days and. It was shot on private property and the person that reported it got a plate and a direction.

[00:50:46] Ron Leblanc: And when he was challenged by the homeowner, he just left the animal and took off. So shot and left moves is, you know, it's a, it's a fairly big deal, but you know, there's some clues there. There, you got a license plate. You can get a person, you know, maybe some DNA collection, maybe a rifle casing, um, maybe DNA if he had maybe.

[00:51:09] Ron Leblanc: You can do other things and it's basically a murder investigation except the victims and moose And they're no different and you're handling it from start to finish. You're not handing it off to the um, the suicide or the The, the group of the officers that handles Homicides. Homicides. Yeah, yeah. You are it from A to B, A to C 

[00:51:27] Travis Bader: and.

[00:51:28] Travis Bader: See, that'd be pretty cool. That's uh, because the success or failure of that entire thing will depend on you and there's going to be a higher motivation for you to make sure that your, your dot and I is crossing T's. 

[00:51:38] Ron Leblanc: It's a sense of pride in your file to get things done right. And. Yeah. And, uh, you know, there's a lot to learn in there.

[00:51:45] Ron Leblanc: It takes you. You don't learn that off the bat. You take some experience and some, you know, doing things right and wrong to figure it out and some guidance from more experienced people. And, uh, but it's rewarding at the end when, you know, you've got a file that it needs, needs some outcome and 

[00:52:05] Travis Bader: So you have a, let's say, shot and left animal, um, you go there, get, do all the forensic work, you pull out bullets, you look for casings, DNA, all, all the, all the CSI type stuff, um, what happens to the meat after?

[00:52:21] Ron Leblanc: Well, we do keep a chunk of meat for DNA and whatnot, but mostly, if we are able to, we'll, we'll, um, we'll give the meat to the local First Nations, or we'll have, we have a meat list for, for others that want, would like to be on it, and, you know, we'll often, Put down animals on the side of the highway that are injured.

[00:52:40] Ron Leblanc: We try not to waste that. If we seize fish, lots of people, you know, it's, you know, you seize a fish and you're like, Oh, you're going to be eating that tonight. You know, there's, it's evidence and it's all documented. It's, I don't know where these stories come from, but there's so much oversight. From supervision, layers of supervision that you, it's impossible to do that.

[00:53:00] Ron Leblanc: And you have, you're, you're giving people, you know, here's a fish and you're documenting that. Here's a paper to sign. I got to put it in my notebook. You may have to take photos. There's so many layers that there's impossible. Um, but yeah, we, that meat gets, it does not get wasted. 

[00:53:20] Travis Bader: I know one of the questions that came up, there is a, have you ever heard of a website called Fishing with Rod?

[00:53:25] Travis Bader: No. Okay. There's a, I guess the guy's name is Rod and he's got a, and he broke this, uh, story or someone through his website did it. There's a bunch of fish that were just dumped on the, uh, in the side of the bushes and kind of going bad. And I guess the, uh, the speculation was that somebody was catching them.

[00:53:45] Travis Bader: Or some people were catching them and they're selling them and when they got too bad to sell, they just kind of dumped them all over the side. What, what does COs do in a, in a situation like that? What can be done? 

[00:53:58] Ron Leblanc: Well, I mean, if it's an area where it's causing an attractant for dangerous wildlife or wolves and bears and coyotes and things like that, that's an issue and that's something we can deal with.

[00:54:09] Ron Leblanc: There's more responsible ways to.

[00:54:14] Ron Leblanc: Um, and, you know, there's, there's, You could take it to the dump. Sure. A lot of the dumps are free out here. I mean, that's a pretty viable option. There's, there's other places that it can be brought that, you know, may not attract the attention from us or, or bring in wildlife, which could, you know, be, be harmful.

[00:54:39] Travis Bader: So one question we had was, uh, what's a correct way to respond if you're approached by a conservation officer and you're out hunting or you're out fishing, what's a, what's the best thing a person can do? 

[00:54:50] Ron Leblanc: Well, it depends on, you know, there's lots of depends, like, so it could be in a vehicle or in a quad or walking or whatever, but basically our job is to just ensure that the compliance part of it is being met and the interaction is safe for you and me.

[00:55:07] Ron Leblanc: So if you have a firearm with you and you're out, On foot, let's say, you know, unloading the firearm is, I'm going to ask you to unload it just cause not having a loaded firearm while we're face to face is important for me. It's beneficial. Yes. Um, uh, in a vehicle, you know, just being respectful and not making any sudden movements towards your gun.

[00:55:28] Ron Leblanc: You know, I may ask you if I can inspect your gun to make sure it's unloaded. Cause for me, unloading, having a, dealing with the firearm first is my priority. After that, we can deal with. everything else. But, um, you know, the conservation officer should be the one introducing him or herself as, hey, I'm a conservation officer.

[00:55:48] Ron Leblanc: I'm just doing whatever check they're doing. A little bit of intro, maybe it might be a bit of small talk. Have you seen any game? Anybody else out? And then, you know, just being open and honest about what's going on and what you're doing and why they're, why they're there to inspect your. So your, your line or your firearm or whatever you're doing.

[00:56:09] Travis Bader: That was one of the interesting ones because conservation officers have, um, wide responsibilities. Very often the calls that they're going to are a person with a firearm calls, not necessarily a malicious bad guy type firearm call, but. I mean, you're, you're trained on several different platforms of firearms, you're encountering firearms on a regular basis.

[00:56:34] Travis Bader: Um, you have a very wide platform of, um, uh, discretionary power. And in fact, some of them will exceed what a police officer has. And people are saying, Oh, you can't come into my vehicle. You can't search my vehicle. You need a warrant. Well, not from a conservation officer perspective. 

[00:56:50] Ron Leblanc: Yeah, that's true. It, we have such a wide berth of responsibilities and to understand and know all that.

[00:56:57] Ron Leblanc: Is you gotta, it takes some time to be proficient in all that, so. Hmm. But yes, uh, A A C E O will inspect more firearms in one season than a typical R C M P member will do in his whole career. Mm. His or her whole career. Mm. You know, dozens and dozens and dozens, and sometimes dozens and dozens a day depending on how busy you are.

[00:57:21] Ron Leblanc: Um, But yeah, I mean, we, and because of the nature of our work, and we're mostly in the bush a couple hours from nowhere, Um, we are packed full of different authorities. Um, so a lot of people will challenge us on, you can't do that, you're a game warden. So, you know, for instance, uh, I was on the gang ranch checking deer hunters, and I asked to, I did a stop on a fellow and I wanted to check his rifle before we got into the hunting of the deer check and whatnot.

[00:57:51] Ron Leblanc: And he said, well, you can't touch that firearm. It's a federal thing and you're just provincial. So, yeah, there's a whole, there's a whole bunch of things in there that I think you watch too many episodes of Matlock and, but, uh, Coss are given their authority under the Environmental Management Act, uh, and you're granted a conservation under there.

[00:58:12] Ron Leblanc: But on addition to that, uh, the province of BC is, Has, uh, appointed us special provincial constables in the province of BC with unrestricted, uh, powers to enforce all laws and acts in BC. So, we have the same authorities as a Mountian BC, as a provincial constable. So, we could write you a texting while driving, or a speeding ticket, or, and it has happened, but it's not really what we're there for.

[00:58:39] Ron Leblanc: But we have the authority to deal. With anything in the province on top of because we're a peace officer or provincial constable criminal code and all that all we can do all of that stuff. We're also appointed federal fisheries officers, uh, same as DFO to deal with all the federal fishery stuff. We're appointed Canadian Wildlife Officers.

[00:59:01] Ron Leblanc: We have dual appointments in the Yukon and Alberta. So we're considered Game Wardens in those two territories as well. So we're packed full of authorities. And we do have, uh, some different a Authorities and the police because of the Wildlife Act to search without warrant vehicles, boats, any other conveyance or a camp.

[00:59:22] Ron Leblanc: And, um, I'll ask you if I can go into your vehicle, if you've been hunting or fishing or something, I want to look at it in there as a courtesy and you may tell me no, or you need a warrant and I'm just, I want to see where you're going to go with it. But I, I really don't need your permission, but I often will ask because it's the polite thing to do.

[00:59:43] Travis Bader: Yeah, that's one thing, you know, dealing with, dealing with anyone really, be respectful. Yeah, for sure. That, that can change the outcome because you have such discretionary power, powers from giving a warning to giving a fine, to seizing equipment, to going to jail, to, and sometimes people can just be having a bad day and they can walk out with a warning and sometimes you're having a bad day and they just make their day worse.

[01:00:11] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. I mean, you know, you. You can't talk yourself out of being arrested, but you can talk yourself into being arrested. I like that. Yeah. And, you know, we have police, we have the cages in our trucks, like the, we call it the prisoner cage. We have those in our trucks for a reason. We have handcuffs for a reason.

[01:00:29] Ron Leblanc: It's not often that we're arresting people. Um, but if we're in the backcountry and, you know, we, um, we come across something, because we're, Uh, in the backcountry, we, we may get people that are trying to avoid the CI city centers and using the backcountry. Mm. And if we run your name through our dispatch and maybe a warrant for your arrest, or there may be some other thing that is going on and you know, you get arrested and you get brought to the police station.

[01:00:59] Ron Leblanc: And in the Wildlife Act, there, there's provisions for that in the Fisheries Act, and we very rarely arrest people for a barbed hook. That does not happen, although it's possible. It just, it doesn't work like that. I mean, that's not what we do, but, um, you know, there's some instances where for sure, um, under the Wildlife Act that we will put handcuffs on you and seize your truck and your boat and all that other stuff.

[01:01:25] Ron Leblanc: And I mean, really, it's got to be a, something serious enough to do that. But for the most part, depending on the interaction or what the nature of what has happened, it may result in a warning, may result in a couple of tickets. It may result having to go to court and let a judge decide. 

[01:01:43] Travis Bader: So, I did a float hunt with a couple of friends on a older commercial white water raft that I purchased in my, my twenties because I almost drowned on the goofy little World War II inflatable that I was using before that, that I bought at a gun show.

[01:01:58] Travis Bader: And, uh, another buddy had a rowing frame for it and took it down the Fraser River for about a hundred kilometres and we're just looking at the maps and. One area says whirlpools, another area says rapids, and we had, we didn't really do much of a recce hunt on it and it was, uh, try to get some local knowledge to see if it, what it would look like.

[01:02:19] Travis Bader: But what I really thought would have been beneficial is if I could have taken a drone and flown sections where it's going to look a little trickier and just make sure it was safe to go. But I said, no, not bringing a drone on this hunt. Was that the right call? That's 

[01:02:33] Ron Leblanc: a very good call. Okay. That could have been a bad day for you.

[01:02:36] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. So, and there's using drone while you're hunting, there is no ticket for that. You just go right to court. If you have a drone with you on a hunt speed hunting expedition, that is a ticket or court, depending on, and you could, you could lose that drone. I'd probably seize it from you until we figure it out.

[01:02:58] Ron Leblanc: Um, the, the, the fair chase part of that with the drone. Uh, it's a, it's a new thing. The drones, it's so accessible now. And everybody seems to have one and you want to bring your kids with you on a hunt and they want to bring their drone, leave the drone at home. 

[01:03:17] Travis Bader: What about ID, people needing ID with their fishing license, ID with their, with their tags?

[01:03:22] Travis Bader: Is that something you find a lot of people gap on? 

[01:03:26] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. I mean, I think it's been the last five years where that's been a requirement, um, as part of the, the new updated system for fish and wildlife ID, the FID system. And, uh, as you know, if you've encountered a CO in the last couple years, he, he or she would have asked you for ID and they have, we have an app on our phone that we can use in and out of cell phone service that brings out some basic data about what your residency is, what kind of tags you have, what your draw is, et cetera.

[01:03:56] Ron Leblanc: And eventually the, the goal is to migrate the phishing license into that as well. I'm not sure how they're going to figure out with the documenting Chinook and Steelhead with writing it on the paper, but. Right. So I don't know how that's going to work, but in the meantime, um, you produce your ID and we can pull up all your data.

[01:04:16] Ron Leblanc: Phishing as well, no different. It's, it's an authorization. You have to have your ID for phishing. And, um. It's to, it's to prepare to go to that paperless side, but either way, it's, it's a regulated activity. You need a piece of ID with you to prove who you are. Um, in the past, you know, it's just too easy to go print off your fishing license and borrow your friends.

[01:04:41] Ron Leblanc: Right. So yeah, the residency game as well. And it can be quite pricey to buy a non resident license and if you're from Ontario and your brother has a house here, it's too easy. 

[01:04:55] Travis Bader: Yeah, I could see that. Let's see what other questions we have.

[01:05:02] Travis Bader: One person was asking about, uh, Métis and there's a, he says, it's their understanding that Métis have federal migratory bird rights, but not provincial hunting rights. Is that correct? 

[01:05:13] Ron Leblanc: No, not in, not in BC. The Métis, um, there's no recognition or special privilege for hunting for that. 

[01:05:23] Travis Bader: So make sure that they have all of their correct licenses.

[01:05:26] Travis Bader: Yeah. Um,

[01:05:31] Travis Bader: it's an interesting one. I don't even know if it's something that you can comment on, but, uh, how can hunters provide more support on a political level to conservation officers? Oh, wow.

[01:05:46] Ron Leblanc: That's a one for off topic, offline, but, uh, it's a good question. And. Um, you know, we're what I can say is, you know, we're our numbers are less than 150. And that those haven't increased in a while, and our, our workload has increased our authorities of what we're enforcing different more mandates, more hunting population, cities are growing, the call volumes growing.

[01:06:18] Ron Leblanc: And as a field officer, and I can speak for my fellow field officers, we're, you know, it's busy and I think we need some help. 

[01:06:26] Travis Bader: Okay. Enough said. What are some of the most interesting files that either you or your colleagues have had to deal with? Oh, wow. 

[01:06:37] Ron Leblanc: Um,

[01:06:40] Ron Leblanc: Some of them are still ongoing, so I can't speak to them because they're still before the courts, but, um, I've been, I think some of the, the sort of funny ones are like the problem wildlife ones where you're interacting with, with critters and it's kind of the moments you hope nobody's watching sort of thing.

[01:06:58] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. And, uh, geez, I had one where I'm just remembering this. So I was in Burns Lake and. And you're quite close with the RCMP members because you're often backing each other up and, and so you have each other's cell phone numbers and whatnot. So I get a call. At like 2. 30, 3 in the morning from one of the Mounties on duty in Burns Lake and he, uh, I could tell in his voice that he's amped up and he said, Ron, there's a grizzly bear, uh, trying to break into this lady's house and we're on our way.

[01:07:32] Ron Leblanc: I'm like, okay, I'm getting dressed. And it was an address kind of halfway to, Between me and where they were so Right on the highway is highway 16 so I I raced down there and I pull into the The, the yard and the Mounties are waving their arms at me. Oh, no, no, it's okay, sort of, sort of, just, we can step it down a little bit.

[01:07:57] Ron Leblanc: Okay, I jump out of the truck and I'm like, what's going on? It's like, oh, it's not, it's not a grizzly bear. It's, she said she saw a grizzly bear the other day and her old in Iraq and assumed, but it's not. It's a, it's a. It's a young calf, Moose. This is like, last, early June, like first or second day of June.

[01:08:16] Ron Leblanc: And Mama's on the other side of the fence, and Baby's on this side, and Mama's freaking out because Baby can't figure out how to get through the fence. And so... I'm like, okay, well, all we got to do is take the calf and put her on the other side of the fence and problem solved. Sounds 

[01:08:31] Travis Bader: easy. Yes, it does. 

[01:08:34] Ron Leblanc: So I walk up to the, to the two Mounties and I'm like, your job is to keep her from stomping me.

[01:08:42] Ron Leblanc: I'm not afraid of the Taliban. I'm not afraid of Al Qaeda. You know what I'm afraid of? Cow moose. Cause they're dangerous. Oh yeah. So, uh. I go over to this little guy and he's a couple days old. It's just tiny. It's all wobbly. And, and I give it a little poke with my foot to try to get the maybe shoe out fence, fenced area, give it a poke, give it a poke.

[01:09:05] Ron Leblanc: And it doesn't move. Third, third time I give it a poke, it stands up on all fours and lets out this little moose calf and puts its heads down and charges towards me. It head butts me right in the.

[01:09:22] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. So I get bent over, I fall, I'm kind of bent over and then all I feel is, it's hoofing me on my body armor. And I look over at the two cops and they're pointing and laughing, ahhhhh. As the little guy runs off into the corner of the yard and I'm bent over and I say, look, I just need a minute. I just mean, he got me.

[01:09:46] Ron Leblanc: He really got me. And so they just are laughing their guts out. The homeowner is standing on her, on the porch and kind of like, what, what is going on here? So I'm the expert, right? I show up and I'm, I'm on a commission. I need a few minutes. So, I can hear Mama on the other side of the fence still, and their cops are trying to get themselves together, and so I'm like, okay, I gotta go and find this guy and get you out of here now.

[01:10:13] Ron Leblanc: So, I walk over, I get myself, and I kind of start walking. Like barbecue grate kind of thing on the ground. And I pick it up and I put it over my bits, a little bit of protection now, cause he's dangerous. Hit me once, right? Yeah. So, uh, I start walking over towards him and I get close to him and I'm sort of gesturing him with this fence to try to get him to run and.

[01:10:39] Ron Leblanc: He gets it. He starts running as gangly as he can towards the front fence, which is perfect. He's going he's going I'm watching and and there's two police cars there their headlights on Sort of right where he's running and he's running for them. He's running for them. And then I hear that bang Oh, come on.

[01:10:57] Ron Leblanc: It hits his head on the bull bar, the police car, ding, and it falls over and it's shaking and its legs are vibrating. And then I hear the Homer, Oh my God, Oh my God. And I'm like, Oh crap. So I run over. And I pick this little guy up and he's out. He knocked himself out. I pick him up and this is my chance to grab him and take him out of the...

[01:11:20] Ron Leblanc: So I take him and I run him out to the gate quickly before Mama comes. And I put him down and I run back in and close the gate. And I'm still hurting from my previous injury. And I'm watching the little guy and... And he's starting to come to and he's, mama comes around and she's standing basically over top of him and takes a couple minutes and baby stands up and shakes his head and they run off into the woods.

[01:11:46] Ron Leblanc: So, yeah, and then I get home at like, probably like four in the morning or something. Get back in the bed. And my wife's like, how'd it go? I'm like, I don't want to talk. 

[01:11:56] Travis Bader: Uh, if only there was a camera on that at the time, eh? 

[01:11:59] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. Like, you know, there's, there was witnesses on that one and, but you know, things like that.

[01:12:07] Ron Leblanc: That's 

[01:12:08] Travis Bader: funny. Um, here's a question that people, uh, does, uh. It says, what deterrence of conservation officers see as effective against illegal bear and unlicensed harvesting of wildlife. Not really the most well put together sentence, but, uh, um, and is that a big thing? I mean, we, we always hear about illegal bear harvest and, uh.

[01:12:36] Travis Bader: Is that. 

[01:12:37] Ron Leblanc: Yeah, it's not as common as it used to. I mean, when the grizzly bear hunt was on, you know, we probably saw more of that, but it's illegal to bait bears, uh, in BC. Um, you know, so it could create them, it could create us, people will bait deer, and then the bear also like the food that the deer are eating, corn or whatever.

[01:13:00] Ron Leblanc: So, I mean, there's, there's that, but, um, it's not a common, at least up here, it's not a common. I mean, so many barriers. I mean, you don't have to drive very far to bump into one. No, you don't. The, the need to bait them is, I don't find is there. 

[01:13:16] Travis Bader: So here's a couple of interesting ones. I can probably answer a few of these ones, but we'll ask them anyways.

[01:13:21] Travis Bader: Uh, do you guys really get MP5s or is that a myth or is that a fish and game or is that the fish and game dudes? 

[01:13:28] Ron Leblanc: I've never handled an MP5, whether in the army or the CO service. No, that's, uh, I don't know where, that's probably a US Game Warden show or something. 

[01:13:38] Travis Bader: So what are you guys handling? 

[01:13:40] Ron Leblanc: Um, we carry automatic pistol glocks, uh, as a service pistol.

[01:13:46] Ron Leblanc: We have, uh, 22s, uh, shotguns, uh, a 308 patrol rifle, and we carry tranquilizer, uh, guns. 

[01:13:57] Travis Bader: So Glock 22 or 22 

[01:13:58] Ron Leblanc: caliber? It's a Glock 22, 40 cal. Right. 

[01:14:01] Travis Bader: Okay. I didn't know when he said 22s after that, no problem. Um, so that's interesting. The 22s, what do you, using the 22s for? 

[01:14:11] Ron Leblanc: Small game like coyotes or, you know, uh, it's, it's a, it's an easier caliber for smaller mammals and just gives you more options.

[01:14:20] Ron Leblanc: There's more tools in the toolbox and, you know, that's, that's one of the cool things about our agency. And I've had the opportunity to work with other agencies. And when you go through recruit training, you go through with other, uh, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, and, um, Alberta. Yeah, so there's different agencies and you get to see what they use for equipment, what kind of, how they're kitted out.

[01:14:42] Ron Leblanc: Um, and so you get to, you know, that's good. I like that or I don't like that. And so we, I think BC's set up quite well with their equipment and, um, not a lot of complaints with the gear we have. I mean, some great gear and I'm on the uniform committee. So we're always looking for new and better equipment that's lighter.

[01:15:01] Ron Leblanc: That's more effective. That's easier to use. We use a lot of technical gear, thermal imagers, you know, uh, metal detectors, drones. Um, and then some really just old fashioned shovels and axes and hand saws and winches and they work. And yeah, I mean, there's a wide breadth of, of, um, things you got to be proficient at.

[01:15:24] Ron Leblanc: And, and nowadays, like one of those things you got to be proficient at is like a computer. Yeah. And typing. Yeah, totally. Cell phones and iPads and all of that 

[01:15:33] Travis Bader: stuff. That's good for the younger generation. They got that one down. Um, how often do you find yourself having to, um, uh, you're out of town and maybe you have to divvy up somewhere.

[01:15:44] Travis Bader: Are you, does that happen often? You're getting broken down, stuck. 

[01:15:49] Ron Leblanc: In, in my area and in this, this, the region where we are, we are in because we, we cover such vast, uh, vast areas like my office. Covers from Houston to Stewart. Yeah. Stewart on the Alaska border. That's a pretty good area. Yeah. So it's a four and a half hour, five hour drive from Smithers.

[01:16:06] Ron Leblanc: If I'm in Houston and I get a call to be in Stewart, that's a five and a half, six hour drive. Mm hmm. And that's before you deal with whatever you have to deal with. Mm hmm. Then you deal with that and you might as well just spend the night there. Mm hmm. Um, or say if it's full, like this time of year with tourists, there's nowhere to sleep.

[01:16:23] Ron Leblanc: Maybe you can sleep at one of the Mounties houses or at the detachment. Mm hmm. Or maybe you sleep in your tent that night. You know, we just, our truck up here, our trucks are equipped to kind of spend the night somewhere. You know, if something happens at the bush, out in the bush and you have to head out there at 11 o'clock and it may be till five in the morning until you're done, maybe it's a grizzly bear mauling, or maybe it's an investigation that needs attention and you just, you just have to be prepared to be there.

[01:16:50] Ron Leblanc: Whether it be minus 30 or plus 35, like you have to have all your gear ready to go all the time. And you know, you're on patrol in your truck and you have something in mind to go do, and you may be pulled away from doing that or come across something and you just have to be able to switch gears and, and deal with it.

[01:17:10] Travis Bader: So here's something you'd probably know. Um, you got to work with your hands a heck of a lot as a CO. Minus 30. What are you using to keep your mitts warm? 

[01:17:18] Ron Leblanc: Oh, geez. Well, obviously try to wear gloves as much as you can, and then sticking your arms under your hand, under your armpits. But I've, I've jammed my hands and guts of moose to keep him warm.

[01:17:30] Ron Leblanc: You know, I thought about doing the Star Wars thing, climb into one. Right, right. But yeah, I mean. You know, I, I've seen them overnight come back the next morning to that same carcass and it's still warm inside. 

[01:17:43] Travis Bader: Yeah. Yeah. That's a, uh, well, that's a good lesson for hunters. Yeah. 

[01:17:48] Ron Leblanc: Take the guts out. Yes.

[01:17:50] Travis Bader: Absolutely. Um, I don't know how to answer this one. I don't think you will either, but, uh, Which government agency is starting all these fires? Oh God. Ha! Have you, uh, have you seen the, uh, the conspiracy stuff about, uh, conductive energy weapons? No. Oh, okay. Apparently the color blue. 

[01:18:08] Ron Leblanc: That's uh... Color blue.

[01:18:09] Ron Leblanc: Well, we used to have blue uniforms, but they're black now. Okay. 

[01:18:12] Travis Bader: Yeah. No, they say color bluey if you look at... Uh, some of these places where these fires and there's like blue umbrellas are still up or blue cars are there. And apparently Oprah's painting our house blue, like all these, it's on the 66. 6 Hertz spectrum.

[01:18:25] Ron Leblanc: So if you have blue, there's no fires. 

[01:18:26] Travis Bader: Yeah. The conductive energy weapon will bypass your, uh, Oh, 

[01:18:30] Ron Leblanc: okay. Well, that's, I've been unlucky then. 

[01:18:35] Travis Bader: Yeah. Um, How lenient will they be with someone who accidentally breaks the rules? Will it be a rough time? 

[01:18:44] Ron Leblanc: Accidentally breaks the rules. So is that someone that has done something and reports it, or is that we check somebody and they realize that they've done something wrong and we sort of educate them on the spot that this is an 

[01:19:01] Travis Bader: infraction?

[01:19:02] Travis Bader: Good distinction. Let's say somebody reports, self reports. 

[01:19:05] Ron Leblanc: Okay. So there's a common one is. Uh, say a four point mule deer season, someone shoots a three point, self reports, immediately does what they're supposed to, their call CO, take the guts out so you're not wasting the animal because it's definitely not going to be able to keep it.

[01:19:25] Ron Leblanc: Um, we've, we will attend and take a statement and we'll base that on. Uh, due diligence of the hunter. So how long did that guy stare at that animal? Did he shoot right away as soon as he saw horns or did he spend some time and do his homework? Maybe he shot at a four point and hit the three point. Um, maybe it passed through an animal.

[01:19:48] Ron Leblanc: Um, maybe he hasn't had a whole lot of hunting deer experience, or maybe he's a seasoned hunter and still was a little too eager on the trigger. All of these things play into our discretion and that's, we don't have a ticket quota. People ask, what's your, we don't have that. There is no ticket quota.

[01:20:08] Ron Leblanc: Nobody's ever told me you will write this many tickets. There'll probably be some questions if you write none. 

[01:20:14] Travis Bader: Sure. 

[01:20:15] Ron Leblanc: Yeah, but we don't have a ticket quota. So we'll base all of that on circumstances, uh, what occurred and then, you know, it could be a warning. It could be a violation ticket that that animal is going to be seized.

[01:20:32] Ron Leblanc: Uh, your, your tag is still going to be punched, but, you know, if you don't report it and we somehow get wind of it and, and it's going to be a very different outcome than if you self report. 

[01:20:47] Travis Bader: Yeah. I can imagine. Yeah. If you could change any law or deterrent, what would you do to lower poaching incidents? 

[01:20:56] Ron Leblanc: I think more education to the hunting, hunting and fishing population.

[01:21:02] Ron Leblanc: Um, Um, we, there's not a lot of great references for hunters online or, you know, there's the Cora Cora's and there's talking to other people. That's a start. Um, calling a CO, getting more information, maybe joining a forum, maybe joining a hunting group or a game club. That's a start, but I think the government could do better in terms of helping educate hunters.

[01:21:28] Ron Leblanc: Uh, so there's courses that you have to take to go and hunt. But anybody can just go online and buy a fishing license. I know. And then you're just hope for the best and see what happens. And fishing is very highly regulated and depending on the body of water you're on and the type of species you're targeting, there's a lot there.

[01:21:50] Ron Leblanc: And to, you know, maybe a little bit of training or some more education on the fishing side might, you know, announce a prevention sort of thing. 

[01:21:59] Travis Bader: Yeah, I think that'd be good. Yeah. I mean, it's called a Fish and Wildlife ID. Yeah. That kind of makes 

[01:22:04] Ron Leblanc: sense. So I don't know if there's some appetite to integrate some, have a separate fishing or maybe integrate that into the hunting or, you know.

[01:22:12] Travis Bader: Honestly, I think having a, uh, just basic, cause like your hunting course, your core course teaches you how to be safe, teaches you how to be legal. Um, those are the big things. It doesn't teach you how to hunt. Yeah. Um. I mean, people can read the synopsis and try and extrapolate, but there's so much to hunting all the different types of species out there.

[01:22:30] Ron Leblanc: You know, and you know, there's identification and in the core about animals. So fish. Salmon, especially, people can get that confused. You know, you keep a coho or maybe there's no Chinook retention and they're like, Oh, it's not a Chinook, it's a sockeye and they get confused. I know. And you know, the photographs aren't so great.

[01:22:49] Ron Leblanc: Well, you 

[01:22:50] Travis Bader: look at the photographs and then you look at another set of photographs and they've been taken at different stages of the spawning cycle and one looks like the other, and the things you're looking for on one now show up on another one. And it can be, unless you're out there and you've. You've done it a bit and you get to know these critters and the fish.

[01:23:08] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. Like when you kill a steelhead, cause you think it's just something different. Whoops. Yeah. That's, that's, uh, that's a bad day for you. It's 

[01:23:17] Travis Bader: not a good day. What do you do if you find somebody with a steelhead that's, you know, they're losing the meat 

[01:23:22] Ron Leblanc: for sure. Yeah. There's, there's some, it, it can, it definitely.

[01:23:28] Ron Leblanc: It's a serious offense because of the, there is no retention of steelhead here. Can 

[01:23:35] Travis Bader: First Nation keep steelhead? Yeah. On their, 

[01:23:38] Ron Leblanc: on their land. Traditional territory. Traditional territory. 

[01:23:40] Travis Bader: Okay. Sure. Does that 

[01:23:42] Ron Leblanc: happen? It does happen, but they also recognize that the species is not doing as well as it should.

[01:23:46] Ron Leblanc: And, and so, I mean, they're working with us a lot to educate their own members on, on, um, what should be harvested and what shouldn't. I mean, they, they, they do have a big, uh, Um, sockeye fishery here that members can get sockeye from, through the DFO facility and the cooperation with, with, uh, the different bands here.

[01:24:08] Ron Leblanc: They, so there's enough salmon to go around for the band here. Okay.

[01:24:17] Travis Bader: Is there anything that we should be talking about? You think that we haven't covered so far?

[01:24:26] Ron Leblanc: Um.

[01:24:31] Ron Leblanc: Well, I'd like to maybe talk a little bit about the process for a conservation officer and their training, like what they are, what the training is like and what they're, what they have to go through to get to the point where you're now seeing this officer in the middle of nowhere talking to you.

[01:24:49] Ron Leblanc: There's a lot of training and checks and balances that. That person has to go through to get to that point totally very different from how it was 20 years ago Yeah, it's very regimented now and it's it's it's uh, it's different from you Some of these guys that have been around a long time used to talk to them about what their training was like it has

[01:25:11] Ron Leblanc: Um, and, and now we go through an academy called Western Conservation Law Enforcement Academy. And it's, like I said, it's an academy, uh, recruit academy, just like, say, RCMP Depot. But for game wardens, and it's in Western Canada, and ourselves, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan. We all joined together to do one academy.

[01:25:32] Ron Leblanc: And it's just, we only may have 10 or 15 recruits each, but when you jam them all together, you got a troop. We share resources and instructors, uh, we come together and we provide our own perspectives on, uh, and expertise on. So a recruit will show up and, you know, the first couple of days it's drill and getting yelled at and pushups and running and, you know, the pair and all that stuff.

[01:25:56] Ron Leblanc: So that's no different. And then it's, then it's a series of courses, off road driving course, boating course, problem wildlife course, tranquilizing course, uh, defensive tactics, firearms, long arms, investigative techniques, how to trap wildlife, Uh, Swiftwater Rescue, um, ORV, how to back up a trailer. Like.

[01:26:26] Ron Leblanc: That's a good one. 

[01:26:27] Travis Bader: Yeah. I know a lot of people who should take that course. Yeah. 

[01:26:30] Ron Leblanc: Um, and that's just the, so there's, I'm sure there's more than that, uh, first aid and so it's a bunch of stuff jammed in there and it's 16 weeks, four months long and it's basically, it's just a tip. It's just the tip of the spear.

[01:26:44] Ron Leblanc: It's just the start. The real training is. When they get back, uh, to their jurisdiction. So BC is very different than the other provinces in terms of how we get secondary approval from Crown before those charges get approved. Other provinces don't have that. We have that extra layer of, uh, of approval. And then BC is unique in different ways in terms of our law and our authorities.

[01:27:10] Ron Leblanc: You know, they may have different authorities than us. So they gotta learn some of that when they graduate from that academy. Then they meet their field trainer. And then they do a minimum a year. It could be longer, but it's a minimum a year you're attached to the HIP. Wow. To an experienced officer. And there's a book that you have to...

[01:27:28] Ron Leblanc: You know, get through that kind of gives you the guidance of what we want to see you get exposed to. And it may not all be done in that area. You may have to go to other parts of the province to get that experience. Uh, for instance, like moose and big critters are not going to be done in Vancouver Island.

[01:27:43] Ron Leblanc: Right. But they have elk and yeah. So, you know, a minimum a year to do that. And me personally, I think you're not really understanding a fair grasp of it until five years in. That 

[01:28:00] Travis Bader: long, eh? Yeah. There's just so much to it. There's 

[01:28:02] Ron Leblanc: so much. I mean, you, you can get people that maybe are book smart or whatever, but to get the experience to be in the trenches.

[01:28:12] Ron Leblanc: You know, five years, I think, to be, you're, you're now, you're kind of feeling comfortable with the scenarios and how, you know, you're always going to be stumped. I mean, you'll be at a gas station and someone will walk up to you and ask you a question and you're like, I actually have to look that up. I'm not sure.

[01:28:29] Ron Leblanc: You know, people expect us to know everything, but we don't, um, and the regulations are And each fishing and hunting and, and all the other, uh, leads that we are, we're lead for, you know, if someone's having a fire and they need, uh, us to go deal with the fire during a fire ban, we're, we're going to that.

[01:28:48] Ron Leblanc: Someone's burning slash when they shouldn't be burning, we're not, there's environmental file, we're going to that. ORV, uh, we're the lead agency for that. So there's, you know, not, not including all the other stuff that we do with helping the local police with emergency situations and, you know, in small towns, there's only so many cops and, you know, if they need a hand, we, we get called search and rescue need an extra boat.

[01:29:12] Ron Leblanc: We know the area we're well equipped. We have all the communications devices. We're plug and play. We're like the Swiss army knife of law enforcement. We can do it all. That's pretty 

[01:29:22] Travis Bader: cool. 

[01:29:24] Ron Leblanc: Boats, quads, drones. Or the snowmobiles. You know, and then there's the, these recruits still have to go through avalanche safety and snowmobile training and ice rescue and lots and lots of training.

[01:29:39] Ron Leblanc: And then there's all the law enforcement side that's more specific to BC and getting all of that done. And then, so now they've got all of this stuff and they've got to retain it and, and then be deployed. And then they get sent out and we'll see how it goes. 

[01:29:55] Travis Bader: Yeah. And then you get sent out and you're on your own?

[01:29:58] Travis Bader: On your own. And you're dealing with Lord knows what, just average anglers and hunters that are maybe bending the rules a bit, maybe ignorant, or maybe people that are outright poaching and doing illegal things and knowingly 

[01:30:14] Ron Leblanc: so. Yeah. Yeah. And for me, like. Like, I've trained a number of recruits, and I'm a, one of the Youth Enforced Instructor on that cadre, and I also train at the academy.

[01:30:25] Ron Leblanc: Um, you know, knowing your authorities as an officer, and knowing the legislation, and also why, so that, uh, Hunter or Fisher ask you, why do we need to have no barbs on the river? Understanding why that regulation is there, and trying to explain that to the public so they can now buy into that, versus just a rule.

[01:30:46] Ron Leblanc: There's a reason for it. This is the reason. And then now they understand, well, why is there a motor vehicle closure here? This makes no sense. Well, sir, there's a reason the closure is here is because access, there's a caribou herd here and it's very sensitive and having motor vehicle, you know, just trying to justify why that's in 

[01:31:05] Travis Bader: place.

[01:31:06] Travis Bader: That'd be an interesting education piece for the government to put out, just the whys. Yeah. This is a rule. Why? Here's a rule. Why? I always 

[01:31:14] Ron Leblanc: want to know why. So 

[01:31:15] Travis Bader: do I. I agree. It's important to know why, then you understand, and then you can tell other people. Yeah, I agree. 

[01:31:22] Ron Leblanc: But yeah, I mean, you know, so if you do encounter a COO in the back country and, um, for me, this I'm speaking from my perspective, because honesty goes a long way.

[01:31:36] Ron Leblanc: And the minute you lied to me, my discretion goes away. Yeah. I have a lot of discretion and we have the ability to practice that discretion. Hmm. Um, and if you're open and honest, you know, we're going to work with the person. 

[01:31:50] Travis Bader: I don't have any patience for somebody who's dishonest. I should imagine other people are like 

[01:31:54] Ron Leblanc: that.

[01:31:54] Ron Leblanc: Yeah, I, I, I'm too old, man. I've been around, I've been there and done that with previous life. And I, I don't play the drama thing. Uh, I'm pretty 

[01:32:05] Travis Bader: straightforward. Yeah. I'd much rather someone just keep their mouth shut than lie to me. Yeah. Um, um, well, Ron, thank you very much. That was, uh, some interesting questions from the public that came up there.

[01:32:19] Travis Bader: I know there's some really interesting stories that are probably not for public consumption, but they're, they're a lot of fun, really enjoyed. Going out with you yesterday, that was, uh, it was neat to see what you do, what a day in the life of a CO looks like. And, um, I can see why the people here in Smithers say this is our conservation officer and not the conservation officer.

[01:32:41] Travis Bader: Thank you so much for being on this. So thanks 

[01:32:42] Ron Leblanc: for having me. It's been awesome. And we'll see if there's appetite to do it again and go from there. I love it.

[01:32:56] Ron Leblanc: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.