By Wawmeesh G. Hamilton
Public and private enterprises have upped the ante in the search for whoever is illegally slaughtering elk in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.
Pearson Kal Tire and The Coastal BC Guide Outfitters Association have donated $1,000 and $5,000 respectively to Nuu-chah-nulth officials at a press conference on Tuesday.
The amount brings the reward up to $31,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the recent elk kills. It is one of the largest rewards in Canadian history for such a crime, Tseshaht Chief Councillor Hugh Braker said.
“The elk are gone and there’s nothing we can do about that. Someone put themselves and their greed before wildlife stewardship,” said Dave Fyfe, president of the guide outfitters association. “But we need to stand together and make sure these acts don’t happen again.”
Employees at Pearson Kal Tire are outdoor enthusiasts and hunters and felt they had to contribute to the effort.
“Our guys are by-the-book types who’d love a chance to get a proper draw for an elk,” Kal Tire spokesperson Kurt Schmidt said.
“We were just blown away when we heard this happened.”
On Dec. 4, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council offered a $25,000 reward.
To date, 11 elk carcasses have been found around the Klanawa Valley, Franklin Camp, Nahmint and Flora Lake, conservation officials reported.
Whether the perpetrators are aboriginal or not, “...we want these people charged and convicted,” NTC president Deb Foxcroft said. “Nuu-chah-nulth want the elk poaching to stop, and we want that sooner rather than later.”
The guide association has a similar ideology to Nuu-chah-nulth people about wildlife, according to Fyfe. “We meet routinely and talk about stewardship. We talk very little about business. We talk a lot about wildlife.”
Conservation officials have identified numerous people of interest, and several people could be responsible for the kills, BC Conservation Service Sgt. Ben York said. He declined to provide specifics, but said tips about the incident have been flowing in regularly.
Braker said he believes that someone, maybe from a small West Coast community, knows who is responsible for the elk slaughter but is nervous about coming forward. They have an ally in Tseshaht if they break their silence, he said. “We will stand beside you if you report....we will support you 100 per cent.”
Anyone with information can call the Report All Poachers and Polluters Tip Line at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).