Home Life Fighting the good fight: Wildlife

Fighting the good fight: Wildlife

This is the third in a series of stories about retired RCMP officer Patrick Guy Roy who is slowly slipping into Alzheimer’s.

While stationed in Windsor, I got to know the Department of Lands and Forest officer. He was a gentleman named Ivan Myers. Ivan was a real bloodhound when it came to pursuing the bad guys that hunted out of season. These poachers would go out at night using powerful lights to scope out deer or moose with no regard for hunting season whatsoever.

We have hunting seasons because when animals are most vulnerable, mainly when breeding, we want to protect their safety. It’s a travesty to wildlife protection and animal welfare to disrespect the laws put in place to protect these animals. As a result of cutbacks, Ivan Myers was the sole Lands and Forest officer in our area. He was also a friend of mine, and he would often call me during the off-season to go out at night with him to hunt the hunters. I liked Ivan, and I would give him a hand anytime he called. We would sit in my vehicle in a dark field, sipping coffee, shooting the shit and cracking jokes while we waited to see if anyone would come out to hunt.

Ivan had made a cutout of a deer from a piece of plywood to ambush these renegade riflemen and had painted it a reddish-brown colour. He gave it eyes made out of reflective tape, which lit up when caught by a car’s headlights, and to finish it off, Ivan had given it a moveable whitetail that he operated with a pull cord. In the dark, and at first glance, it pretty much looked like the real deal.

Those nights in the car with Ivan would go late, and often I would be way past my shift looking for those damn poachers. As a matter of fact, it was always past my shift by a couple of hours. Many nights would be quiet, but one particular night, we had set up the fake deer, and Ivan had the hundred-foot cord trailed to our vehicle. He was absently yanking on it, moving the whitetail while we sat in a dark patrol car sipping coffee and chatting when a  truck pulled in a couple of hundred yards away and flashed the field. The deer’s eyes lit up like two stars on the horizon. Ivan started yanking on that cord, wiggling the shit out of that tail. Suddenly, we heard two loud bangs. Those jackasses were hunting, and they just thought they’d shot a real deer. We had our evidence; all we had to do now was drive up to their car and arrest them. I turned on the red and blues, and we were on them in less than a minute. I hopped out of the vehicle and yelled for them to drop their firearms and put their arms up. Thankfully, they complied. Honestly, you never know what will happen. Cops get shot at all the time; it just doesn’t make it to the paper every time.

They stood there in their black rubber boots, covered head to toe in camo with their hands in the air until I finally told them they could put their hands down. These two men were old enough to know better. They looked to be in their early forties. Sometimes when it’s young guys, they start babbling, trying to proclaim their innocence.

Still, Ivan laid into the men about mating and protection and that if everybody hunted whenever the hell they wanted, there would be nothing left to hunt. When he finished ranting, I put them in the back of the cruiser and read them their rights. Thankfully, they were charged and given fines, but fines don’t always deter these people. These types of guys go back out again and again. They are the kind of hunters who don’t respect or care about animals; it’s more about stroking their egos with a kill. Haven’t they learned in life that trying to cheat your ego is a road to nowhere? The self isn’t fooled when we cheat, and any accolades, therefore, mean nothing.

Thankfully most hunters in Canada respect the animals and the laws. However, for those that don’t, Ivan had a knack for recruiting informants who would tell him who had shot deer out of season and where they lived. Ivan would ask me to help him get the search warrants he needed, signed by a Justice of the Peace or the sitting judge. I was always happy to oblige him. Together, we would show up early in the morning and knock on the culprits’ doors, and as soon as they opened up, we would show them the search warrant and proceed to their deep freezers. We always found the meat. We’d confiscate everything, and eventually, it all had to be destroyed. Meat that hasn’t been killed at a government inspected abattoir can’t be sold or safely given over as a charitable donation. It was a shame and a double disrespect to the animals that these poachers don’t think about. When we were done cleaning out the freezer, we would hand them a subpoena to appear in court and take our leave.

I had four years of hanging out with Ivan before he passed away. Ivan’s life had been committed to protecting the vulnerability of wildlife, and he was deeply respected by the community of Windsor and the RCMP. He was someone fighting the good fight.  His funeral was packed. They were standing at the back and spilling out into the hallway. I was sad and very sorry to see my friend go.

Last Chapter: You can read the lat chapter here.