The contingent of local Conservation Officers has doubled with the recent addition of Curtis Haslehurst to the Creston office.
Haslehurst joins CO James Barber, who has been working largely on his own since the retirement of Arnold deBoon.
A native of Peterborough, Ontario, Haslehurst joined the Canadian Army after graduating from high school he served in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry for three years, including a tour in Afghanistan.
After his contract was up, Haslehurst joined the Reserves and furthered his education at Fleming College in Peterborough. After completing the two-year Fish and Wildlife Technician program, he returned for another year to get his Conservation and Environmental Law Enforcement accreditation.
“I have always enjoyed the outdoors, and my army experience gave me many transferable skills,” Haslehurst said on Saturday.
Having travelled extensively, he saw his post-secondary education as an opportunity to experience more of Canada. He took a job with Alberta Parks as a seasonal Park Ranger in Cochrane. In 2015 he became a full-time Conservation Officer and was posted to Slave Lake for two years. Haslehurst worked a year in Hinton before applying to the BC Conservation Service.
“I was lucky enough to get the Creston job,” he laughed. “I knew nothing about BC other that what I read. I hadn’t even visited.”
He made his first visit to Creston in April to check out the area and began working on May 15.
“Honestly, I always like to pull for the home team, so I have always said Ontario is the nicest province,” he said. “But living in the Creston Valley is making it harder to justify that opinion! It’s amazing here.”
While his army experience, education, and work in Alberta earned him a “field-ready” designation here in British Columbia, Haslehurst says the learning curve “is huge”. The Creston COs cover territory that includes Kootenay Lake, Kootenay Pass and can extend to the Alberta border. Among the challenges is just getting to know the backcountry and its countless miles of roads and trails.
Much of the work revolves around human and wildlife interaction.
Haslehurst became an avid fly fisherman in Alberta and also enjoys photography.
“I liked being in the woods as a young boy (his family has a cottage in the Parry Sound area), but I never thought of being a CO before I left the Army. I wanted to get a college education so that I could do something different, and here I am!”
Having served in war-torn areas where the natural environment has been destroyed gave Haslehurst an appreciation for the Canadian outdoors.
“I was in places where there was no conservation, no natural environment left,” he said. “We are so lucky in Canada.”