Con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer named best in B.C.

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Frank PEE­BLES Ci­ti­zen staff fpee­bles@pgc­i­t­i­

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.

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