Conservation officer named best in B.C.
One of this region’s veteran conservation officers has won the province’s top prize in his profession.
Len Butler has been named conservation officer of the year by the Ministry of Environment. He is stationed in Williams Lake where he is an inspector for the entire Cariboo-Thompson region.
“Len Butler is a model conservation officer,” said Doug Forsdick, formerly stationed in Prince George and now B.C.’s chief conservation officer.
“In every facet of his career and personal life, he sets an example for other officers,” Forsdick added. “Len has a strong work ethic, a terrific knowledge of the job, terrific use of discretion and truly cares about people. Len has touched many officers, trained, mentored and set them on a path for success. He has truly left a mark on the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.”
According to Environment Minister George Heyman, Butler had covered a lot of ground in his career, even more than most COs.
“When Len Butler started his career as a fish and wildlife officer in Alberta 38 years ago, he was given an unmarked truck with a portable emergency light, a pair of boots, a uniform and ticket book, then told to do compliance checks on people hunting and fishing,” the minister said.
“Butler was aware he would mainly be working on his own, patrolling large areas off the beaten path and dealing with people who would rather be left alone. He knew what he was getting himself into when he signed up for the job but he could not help but feel nervous.” Butler himself picks the story up at this point. “You have to be confident and you have to know your skills quite well,” Butler said. “That really hasn’t changed as long as I’ve been doing this job. I always wanted to get that type of posting. Some of those places that are isolated and you’re working on your own really test you. Your first line of defence is good speaking abilities to get yourself out of a lot of tight situations.”
After Alberta stations at Strathmore and Fort Chipewyan, he cast his gaze towards the other side of the Rockies. In 1991, he crossed that border and joined the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
He now oversees the operations of the CO service in three zones in the centre of the province.
Butler has worked with the special investigations unit and is one of the three leads for the predator attack team, which responds to human-wildlife encounters and attacks.
“Preventing human-wildlife conflicts is something Butler is passionate about after dealing with numerous incidents throughout his career,” said the minister. “On one occasion, a sow grizzly and three cubs decided to make the town of Nelson their home, leading Butler on a nearly month-long chase as the animals feasted on garbage and unpicked fruit. Eventually Butler figured out a pattern and the four bears were captured and released back into the wild.”
If you ask Butler about the accomplishments he is proudest of, at the top of his list is putting together the agency’s defensive tactics program in 2007 for training new recruits and existing conservation officers.
According to the ministry, Butler is the 26th recipient of the award. Since 1992, the designation has been awarded annually to a conservation officer for going above and beyond the call of duty and exemplifying the values of the Conservation Officer Service.
From left are deputy chief conservation officer David Airey, inspector Len Butler, environment minister George Heyman and chief CO Doug Forsdick.