A conservation officer is a peace officer who protects the province’s natural resources according to provincial and federal legislation.
A Conservation Officer’s primary mandate is wildlife and environmental enforcement. Conservation Officers also play an important role in public safety.
The role has expanded greatly since the section moved to the Department of Justice and Public Safety in 2011. Conservation Officers enforce highway traffic rules that affect public safety and off-highway vehicle rules to keep riders safe and protect valuable agricultural land. Conservation Officers are also the primary enforcement agency for the Confederation Trail.
Conservation Officers work closely with other policing partners like the RCMP, local police, Fisheries and Oceans, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Parks Canada. This provides each agency with additional resources when working on matters of public safety or resource protection.
Conservation Officers are trained to police standards and undergo constant updating of their skills and proficiency. Most are graduates of the Atlantic Police Academy Conservation Enforcement program.
Trevor MacKinnon and Patrick Desroches work as Conservation Officers on PEI. Six full-time conservation enforcement officers and one seasonal officer work on PEI.
“In the run of a day, we respond to public reports and complaints, monitor and investigate environmental issues, wildlife poaching, illegal fires, trespassing, off-highway vehicle and highway traffic violations,” says Trevor.
Conservation Officers strive to educate and inform, but also lay charges when required to send a message in the case of repeat offenders. Officers serve summons, prepare for court, and provide disclosure documents. They are trained to keep excellent notes and must have good observation skills.
Their employment journey
Trevor has been a Conservation Officer for 10 years. “When I was in grade 11, I went for a one-day drive-along with a conservation officer, which made me realize I wanted to do the job.
“It took me many years to get there. My first job was building trails for Parks Canada. I worked for 19 years as a Wildlife Technician. I had the training, I kept taking courses, and let people know I wanted a job a job in Conservation Enforcement.”
Patrick is from Summerside, and attended the College of Maritime Forest Technology and became a Forest Technologist. Then he took the Conservation Enforcement training at the Atlantic Police Academy.
“It is tough to get into this position, because there are only six full-time officers on PEI. Start by getting some experience in other positions such as a summer job at Parks Canada. You have to pay your dues and work your way up. You have to take what you can get, work hard at it, and keep going back.”
To learn more about PEI’s Conservation Officers, visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/justice-and-public-safety/investigation-and-enforcement-conservation-officers.