Eleven members of the Conservation Officer Service are being recognized for going above and beyond to protect British Columbia’s residents and natural resources.
Environment Minister Mary Polak joined the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, as she presented the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal to several conservation officers during their annual recertification training today.
As peace officers, conservation officers with 20 years of outstanding service may receive an exemplary service medal. The following ten members are receiving this honour for their many contributions to the province:
- Chris Doyle, inspector
- Adam Christie, retired sergeant
- Len Butler, sergeant
- Steve Jacobi, sergeant
- Greg Kondas, sergeant
- Tobe Sprado, sergeant
- Gord Gudbranson, conservation officer
- Peter Pauwels, conservation officer
- Don Stahl, conservation officer
- Kevin Van Damme, conservation officer
Conservation officer Simon Gravel is also being recognized today with the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association 2013 Lifesaving Award for rescuing a woman who fell off her paddleboard in Howe Sound. Without a personal flotation device, the woman could barely keep her head above water when Gravel found her. The conservation officer pulled her from the water and immediately began treatment for hypothermia, saving her life.
British Columbia’s Conservation Officer Service is the Province’s primary responder to human-wildlife conflicts where there is a risk to public safety, conservation concerns or where significant property damage has occurred.
In addition to regular uniformed members, the Conservation Officer Service’s Provincial Investigations Branch conducts large-scale industrial or commercial crime investigations.
Mary Polak, Environment Minister -
“I am extremely proud of all our conservation officers, and the dedication they show in protecting both public safety and the environment. These officers serve the province with great integrity and courage. Congratulations to those members of the Conservation Officer Service awarded with this great honour.”
Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia -
“The Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal is a tangible way to honour dedicated conservation officers for their years of outstanding public service. It is an honour to congratulate them on this achievement and thank them for their dedication and courage.”
Doug Forsdick, acting chief conservation officer -
“I would like to congratulate the officers that are receiving their Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medals. They have all dedicated at least 20 years to protecting the environment and the citizens that work and play in B.C.’s outdoors. I would also like to congratulate CO Gravel on receiving the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association’s lifesaving award. ”
For more information on Exemplary Service Medals, visit: www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=14992&lan=eng
For more information about B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service, visit: www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Environment
Exemplary conservation officers honoured
A former park ranger and warden, Chris Doyle is the current inspector of south coast operations. With over 21 years in the service, Doyle worked as an officer in Sechelt and Squamish before taking on the inspector role. Doyle organizes wildlife conflict prevention and response programs, and has helped three communities achieve Bear Smart status. Doyle coaches youth sports and enjoys spending time with his wife of 22 years, Kelly, and their children Madison, Oliver and Rhea.
Len Butler is the current sergeant for the Cariboo-Chilcotin Zone. With over 30 years of service as a peace officer, Butler was honoured with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and has also been recognized with an award of merit from the City of Nelson. Butler enjoys fishing, hunting, and woodworking. He has been married to his wife Charlene for 33 years, and they have four sons: Tyler, Matthew, Daniel and Warren.
Retired sergeant Adam Christie started with the Conservation Officer Service in 1993. As a field conservation officer, Christie served in Nelson, Fort Nelson and Revelstoke. Christie retired from his position as sergeant from the Conservation Officer Service in December 2013.
Sergeant Steve Jacobi has worked in the Chilliwack area for the past 14 years. Previously, Jacobi was an officer in Squamish. He enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.
Currently the sergeant for the West Kootenay Zone, Tobe Sprado’s 23 years with the Conservation Officer Service has led him throughout the province. The first conservation officer in Houston, Sprado has also served in New Hazleton, Smithers, Atlin, Castlegar, Surrey and Kamloops. He has also been recognized with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Sprado enjoys angling, hunting, hockey and spending time with his wife of nine years, Teresa, their daughter Tiana and stepsons Anthony and Frankie.
Greg Kondas is the sergeant of training and professional development for B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service in Victoria. With over 24 years of peace officer work, Kondas’ career is quite diverse. Since 1997, he has been leading specialized training programs in use-of-force operations. Before he moved to B.C., Kondas was selected officer of the year in 2008 by his Alberta colleagues from Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Field Services. Kondas enjoys fishing, hunting, golfing and spending time with his wife of 24 years, Karin, and their two daughters Kassandra and Janine.
Gord Gudbranson, a conservation officer for 22 years, has shown great leadership within the service, mentoring several officers on the North Island. He is a founding member of the COS Ceremonial Troop and an integral member of two other teams. Gudbranson spent the first few years of his career in Lillooet and is now based out of the Campbell River office. In 2010, he was selected conservation officer of the year. Gudbranson enjoys spending time outdoors camping, fishing and hunting. He loves cooking and spending time with his wife of 20 years, Cathy, and their three teenagers Brooke, Adam and Bryden.
Peter Pauwels has dedicated 20 years to the Conservation Officer Service. Originally posted to Squamish in the early 1990s, Conservation Officer Pauwels currently works in the Victoria area. Pauwels enjoys salmon fishing, landscaping, gardening and spending time with his 11-year-old son Wyatt and wife of 12 years, Charlene, who also works for the COS.
Don Stahl has served to the public in many different forms. A conservation officer for 17 years in the Chilliwack area, Stahl also spent three years as a fisheries officer, and four seasons as a park ranger. Stahl enjoys fishing, jogging, traveling and spending time with his son, Andrew.
Kevin Van Damme
An expert in predator attack investigations, Kevin Van Damme enjoys sharing his experiences and knowledge amongst his colleagues and the communities he serves. A former fisheries officer in Quesnel, Van Damme has spent 22 years as a conservation officer in Surrey, Clearwater and presently Kamloops. Van Damme enjoys spending time with his wife of 22 years, Coleen, and their three teenaged sons: Brock, Cole and Reid. An avid sports enthusiast, Van Damme enjoys hunting and fishing. He has coached several teams in the BC Summer Games, as well as provincial and western Canadian championships.
Ministry of Environment