January 22nd, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 3
Fish and Wildlife Officer
John Clarke promoted
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald Contributor Photo
Fish & Wildlife officer John Clarke
Pass Herald Publisher
If you have a wildlife problem chances are you have dealt with John Clarke, Fish and Wildlife Officer. John has been a mainstay in the Crowsnest Pass office, and can now boast the new title of District Officer for the region.

Clarke has been a wildlife officer for the past 26 year, with over half of that time spent here in the Crowsnest Pass. According to Jim Mitchell, Inspector for the Lethbridge Unit in charge of district operations for all of Southern Alberta, “everyone in our department has seen the many initiative John has started in the area. He’s a pioneer for BearSmart, he’s working at keeping the sheep off the highways and he’s a community-minded person. He was an obvious choice”. He felt that Clarke’s strongest asset is that, “everyone knows he’s a community minded person trying to make it a safer place for both the people and the wildlife”.

With the promotion Clarke will also be in charge of the Pincher Creek Fish and Wildlife District until its District Officer position is filled, putting Clarke in charge from the BC border towards the Montana border and then out towards the County of Pincher Creek up to the south Chain Lakes.

Clarke started his career in Fish and Wildlife in 1987 doing seasonal jobs in Stony Plain and Fort McMurray until 1990 when he obtained a full time job in Manning. In 1998 he moved to the Crowsnest Pass office.

According to Clarke, “I believe that community awareness is the best way to keep both people and the wildlife in the area safe. I love working with the public. I try to do twelve talks per year”.

Clarke attends Kids Kollege all the way up to the seniors in the High School. “I’ve been here long enough to get to know the kids. I have met some of them in Kids Kollege and watched them grow up each year. I do my talks and interestingly enough these same kids are the ones helping me now with poachers.”

The enforcement model for Fish and Wildlife is based on the philosophy of ‘Education, Prevention and Enforcement’. Clarke closely follows the model: education through the school talks, prevention by going into the field and explaining the laws and enforcement by laying charges. “It’s a way of getting respect. I’ve seen kids doing bad stuff and instead of fining them I call their parents to help educate them. If I catch them again, they get tickets.”

Clarke also facilitates BearSmart presentations in the community. According to Clarke, enforcement was up this year compared to previous years. “A lot of enforcement is through Report a Poacher and general patrols in the field.”

According to Clarke, “town encounters with bears was down this year most likely due to the BearSmart programs. Our Fish and Wildlife volunteers are amazing at getting the word out. I didn’t have to put a bear down this year at all”.

Another initiative started by Clarke is the injured wildlife orphan program. “Trained volunteers will take injured wildlife and deliver them to the rehab centres”. Animals include deer, moose calfs, eagles and hawks.

Clarke has developed contacts in Calgary and Lethbridge area so if an animal is injured, local volunteers will meet someone in Calgary who will then transport them to Medicine River Rehab Centre near Red Deer. Birds go to Birds of Prey in Coaldale. “These volunteers are amazing, they use their own gas and time to help the animals in need.”

Clarke is most proud of his Karelian Bear dog program. He has trained 2 dogs in the program. “We only have two working dogs left, Koda who lives with Clarke and Atlas, his brother, who lives in Cochrane”. I plan on doing some sessional training for more”. In order for the program to work efficiently four dogs are needed so that they can work in pairs.

John took over on January 2nd and is looking forward to working in the community and keeping both the wildlife safe and the community educated.
January 22nd ~ Vol. 84 No. 3
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