Considered the game keepers of the province, members of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation have gathered in Regina for their annual convention this weekend.
Executive Director Darrell Crabbe explains they will have meetings and seminars on a number of issues from wildlife population, land use and maintenance as well as policies they want the government to review, such as the growing concern with illegal outfitters.
"There's a lot of repeat offenders, a lot of outfitting for US citizens so we are going to try to impress upon the government that there needs to be much higher fines." said Crabbe. "If they're continuing to do it then there must be some value in them being able to pay those fines and then continue to do business in that manner."
Another concern is a growing number of Manitoba residents coming across the provincial border and hunting illegally. Crabbe says their own big game population is in serious condition so there are more restrictions. As a result, they're just popping over the border and hunting animals on this side of the boundary.
Invasive species with be another focus of the convention as members not only focus on what's happening inside the province, but all around us.
"Whirling Disease, which is a fatal disease that primarily attacks salmonids, which are your trout and white fish species, have been found to be in the Bow River in Alberta while zebra muscles have been found in Manitoba now." explained Crabbe.
But those invasive species aren't just located in the waters. The convention will continue the discussions around the wild boar population in Saskatchewan that appears to be steadily increasing. While the SWF has been trumpeting the warning call for a number of years now, calling on the province to officially step in, it's been only in the last few months that government officials have started to make changes to help.
Crabbe says the recent change to clear up legalities of hunters shooting wild boars will help a bit but unless a major strategy is developed soon, we are going to be facing a crisis similar to what's happening down in the United States where teams of hunters make it their full time job to eradicate the animals that are destroying crops and even harassing cattle.
"Wild boards are a disaster waiting to happen." said Crabbe. "Dr. Ryan Brook will be presenting at the convention and has made a prediction that if we don't do something soon, it will only take a few years to be as many wild boars in Saskatchewan as there are people."
There are several issues that face the province when it comes to the boar population. They are prolific breeders, very adapt at overcoming new habitat and mainly nocturnal which can make hunting them next to impossible. In some areas of the USA where the boar population is over run, some extremes have been taken to try and control the animals such as using explosives in feed piles, helicopters with automatic rifles and military grade night vision optics.
The convention isn't just business though. There are several banquets and fun events planned such as the annual Contributions and Membership Awards Banquet along with the SWF Awards and Presentations banquet featuring awards for photography, the President’s Appreciation Awards and Conservation Project Awards.