Animals

Conservation officer details life’s work in new book – 100 Mile House Free Press

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Few people quarrel with a grizzly and live to tell about it.

Keith Randy, a former conservation official, not only survived his battle with the bear, but shares the tale in his self-published first book, Boot Polish, Bears and Bush Sense: The Adventures of a Protection Officer in British Columbia.

Randy was tracking a female that had been taken from Kitima with two cubs, near Bella Cola in 1987 after she began killing cattle in the area. One of the cubs was also shot.

“She jumped over me, knocked me to the ground, and worked on me before the guys shot me while she was right above me,” said Randy, who spent a week in hospital after the accident. “It was a sad ending for that bear and we pieced the story together after the fact. It is just typical of what happens to problem bears when they come into contact with humans.”

The story is one of several compelling short tales – some funny, some sad – that Randy collected during his tenure as a Conservation Officer in British Columbia from 1983 to 2014. He decided to compile the anecdotes together into a book in 2020, to reach out to old friends and colleagues, who reminded him of more stories to include.

“You just think about exciting and weird things that happened, funny and sad. I took notes about it, and in the winter of 2019 instead of watching TV, I just got on my computer,” Randy said. Your brain can store things you’ve forgotten but when you put them in again it starts filtering again.”

Read more: Mad Trapper shares his life diary of Cariboo

Most of his stories revolve around the encounters with animals Randy interacted with as part of his job at Kamloops, Merritt, Bella Cola, Squamish, Dawson’s Creek and Fort Saint John.

Among his favorite things is a moose calf that mysteriously escaped from the back of a horse trailer years ago.

He and a friend were on their way to release a pair of rehabilitated twin elk into the wild near Dawson Creek in 1996, but somehow lost the female on the way.

“We got there and the sliding trailer door, which we locked, was somehow open and flew open. We just imagined something terrible going on along the way,” Randy said. In the snow you can see where he came out dragging his front legs on the ground with his rear end still in the trailer. In the end, I failed, got up and jogged into the bushes.”

Randy said he and his friend swore to each other secrecy and blamed aliens for the disappearance.

Working as a protection officer meant every day was different for Randy. Some days he enforced environmental laws, other days he monitored hunters and hunters, and now and then he tracked and hunted animals.

“You name it, I handle it. On the coast, I handled raccoons and black bears while in the north there were grizzlies, moose and deer,” Randy said. “I think most conservationists really enjoy working with wildlife and that was really the part that I really enjoyed.”

Randy said he always wanted to work at 100 Mile House. Although he didn’t get the chance, he decided to settle here, keep himself occupied in the outdoors, or carve wooden birds and play guitar.

Boot Polish, Bears and Bush Sense Available on Amazon and at Parkside Art Gallery. Rande can also be contacted via Instagram:wardenauthour at his website www.keithrande.com.

“If you have any kind of appreciation for nature and the environment,” he said, “I encourage you to pick it up and read it.” “Although there have been stories of me having to destroy animals in the course of my work, it was a sidebar of what’s going on there.”


patrick.davies@100milefreepress.net
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100 Mile House Conservation

Keith Randy lived in Arras west of Dawson's Creek in 1993 (photo provided)

Keith Randy lived in Arras west of Dawson’s Creek in 1993 (photo provided)

Keith Randy takes a landscape from horseback while on patrol in the Icha Mountains north of Lake Nimbu in 1984. (Photo provided)

Keith Randy takes a landscape from horseback while on patrol in the Icha Mountains north of Lake Nimbu in 1984. (Photo provided)

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