The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has responded to concerns over the possibility of poaching in Stony Creek.
The issue was addressed in a recent article, in which a Tillsonburg resident, Mark Vanderhaeghe, expressed deep concern over possible poaching in a section of Stony Creek in town.
Since then, the Tillsonburg News has also spoken with other area residents and has received phone calls stating the same concerns Vanderhaeghe had.
The MNR was recently made aware of potential poaching concerns and is now dealing with the issue.
“We’ve received one call from the MNR tips line indicating that there may be poaching of these trout,” said Russell Brandon, an enforcement manager with the Ministry of Natural Resources Aylmer office.
In light of this, Brandon noted steps that MNR officials are taking to deal with the situation in Stony Creek.
“What we have been doing for this situation is first of all, we conduct our everyday routines in these areas and certainly at this time of year we monitor the streams for activity in the streams.
“We patrol all of these areas on a regular basis, however last weekend we had a concentrated effort on those trout streams of Norfolk County and Oxford County.”
At this time of year, it’s not uncommon for the MNR to increase patrols of streams and creeks across the region, said Brandon.
“It’s because we know the fish are running and there is potential for poaching to take place. The fish are in, they’re spawning and there is an opportunity for poaching activity.”
According to Brandon, enforcement officers were in Tillsonburg the weekend of April 13 and 14, looking at trout streams in the area on a concentrated level.
“I organized a number of officers to specifically look into activity on these trout streams.”
Once such efforts were completed, the Ministry of Natural Resources did confirm that no signs of poaching were evident or seen in Stony Creek during their time here.
“The officers monitored those streams, and that would include driving into areas that have in the past been utilized, walking the shoreline looking for spawning beds and checking the spawning beds, looking at the fish to see if they’re in, what they’re doing and to see if there’s any sort of illegal activity,” explained Brandon.
“This concentrated effort resulted in no non-compliance – there was nothing happening during the time frames that we were out there and on the streams that we were checking.”
Brandon said it’s important to increase awareness about poaching and illegal activity and stressed what the public can do to help the MNR fight poaching of any species.
“It’s good to see an article like that come out that talks about these things and lets the public know about it,” Brandon said in reference to the previous article. “I think the most important thing we need to take away from this is that people need to use the MNR tips line.”
The MNR tips line plays a crucial role in combating poaching said Brandon, and is something people need to be aware of should they learn of any illegal activity occurring in the area. All tips are categorized and responded to on a priority basis.
“What people should do in a situation like that is gather what information is available, for instance descriptions of the people, vehicle descriptions, and license plate numbers,” he said, noting that photos and videos are also good to include.
“Gather what information they can – but don’t approach or confront (possible poachers) and provide the information they gathered to our MNR tips line – 1-877-847-7667. That information will be passed on to a local officer and the matter will be investigated.”