The B.C. Conservation Officer Service is investigating a video that appears to show the brazen poaching of an endangered species in the Fraser Valley.
Acting Sgt. Don Stahl says an angler caught a sturgeon in the Fraser River in Chilliwack on Aug. 31. As he was reeling in the 300-pound fish, two men approached under the guise of offering to help.
“The other two males went and grabbed the sturgeon and threw it in the back of a truck and took off,” he said.
“In my 21-year career, I’ve never seen anybody actually steal a sturgeon from another angler. I’ve never heard of it.”
Stahl says a sturgeon like the one that was stolen can be worth thousands of dollars.
He said patrols have been increased and that “there were some charges laid” against some sturgeon anglers on Friday.
Those charges were for things such as licences, and not for keeping sturgeon, which by law must be released.
Sarah Schreier of the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society says the video is worrying.
“These fish are an incredible species… they take years to mature,” she said. “They only spawn every five to eight years in the wild. So the impact of the loss of a fish to our population is a significant concern.”
The group estimates there are 35,000 to 40,000 sturgeon still in the river, but, “in recent years, we have seen a decline, particularly in the juvenile population.”
“It’s really critical for us to protect the fish that will spawn.”
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says two suspects have been identified. They could face penalties including fines and even jail time, if charged and convicted.