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2015-2016 Annual Summary Wildlife Enforcement Directorate

Our People

Our people are our greatest asset.

Operating out of 5 regions and 21 offices across the country, our 119 employees’ expertise and passion drives our mandate and fuels our work to protect and conserve vulnerable wildlife populations and habitats across Canada.

Investing in our people is one of our top priorities. Here is what we did this year to grow the skills and expertise of our employees:

Training for New Recruits

When we hire wildlife officer candidates, they are required to complete extensive training in order to be designated to enforce the law. A main component of this training is Accredited Enforcement Training. It covers ethics, rights, peace officer powers, interviewing, photography, investigation methods, detentions, search warrants and courtroom practices. This training is complemented by sessions that focus specifically on wildlife legislation and enforcement, called Wildlife Enforcement Standardized Training. Specialized training on firearms, handling dangerous animals and emergency vehicle driving skills is delivered as well.

In 2015-2016, WED was proud to graduate 12 new wildlife enforcement officers from its training program. At the graduation ceremony, ECCC’s former-Associate Deputy Minister, Siddika Mithani, presented the newly appointed wildlife officers with their badges and designation cards.

Operation Aurora - Polar Bear Three-Pronged Approach Training

The Polar Bear is one of Canada’s many iconic species. Native to all three territories as well as four of the ten provinces, its rich fur is sought after around the world. Canada has made significant efforts to protect Polar Bear populations to ensure their continued healthy populations in this country. At the same time, sustainable harvest and trade of the animal by Indigenous communities contribute cultural, food and economic benefits in the North. WED has worked for years with governments, communities and regulators under a project dubbed Operation Aurora to ensure that the trade and transport of harvested specimens is compliant so as to protect both the species as well as the benefits drawn from its sustainable use.

In 2015-2016, WED collaborated with Inuit and First Nations communities, provincial and territorial agencies, and ECCC’s CWS and Science and Technology (S&T) Branch, to pilot an innovative “three-pronged approach” to identify and track legal polar bear hides once they enter trade.

Why did we do this?

  • There are foreign markets for legally-harvested Canadian species.

  • Canada is open to and encourages international scrutiny of sustainable trade.

  • Under trade agreements, consumer countries may put in place trade restrictions or barriers if the source countries do not show good environmental management.

  • Isolated communities are particularly dependent on wildlife trade.

  • We need to not only ensure trade is sustainable but also that specimens are traceable to validate they are legally obtained and traded.

The approach consists of three elements: DNA analysis (genotyping) of muscle tissue, stable isotope analysis (SIA) of fur samples, and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tagging, which is the insertion of encrypted microchips to track polar bear hides from harvest through export. Using all three methods together strengthens polar bear identification and facilitates legal trade through a more efficient process than paper and harvest tag verification.

To implement this new approach, a joint WED and CWS team trained 30 conservation officers from the Government of Nunavut, and later seven conservation officers from the Nunatsiavut Inuit Government in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.

To support the process, genotyping is conducted at ECCC’s Pacific and Yukon Laboratory for Environmental Testing (PYLET) in North Vancouver, British Columbia and SIA is done at ECCC’s National Hydrology Research Centre (NHRC) lab in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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