Mike Little continues to settle into his role in town as the local district Fish and Wildlife Officer on behalf of the Province.
Essentially, Little, who is originally from Ontario but has called Alberta home since 2012, monitors everything from hunting and fishing activity in the region to ensuring folks are following the rules when it comes to quadding, public lands and incidents of human/wildlife conflict.
“I also meet with different stakeholder groups such as trappers, landowners, farmers and groups like Ducks Unlimited for example, to provide education and outreach programs,” he explained.
Topics of discussion could range from chatting about new regulations to tackling any kind of issue that might surface – for example, if a trapper might be having trouble on a particular line.
He can also fill people in on compensation programs that are available, for example, for those affected by elk or deer moving into a bale yard and eating the hay that is meant for livestock.
Prior to taking on his new responsibilities in Stettler just last month, Little was working out of Whitecourt.
As to his profession, Little couldn’t imagine a more fitting or fulfilling line of work.
“My father was a trapper, which is weird to say because we are from the Greater Toronto Area,” he added with a laugh. “But he was a trapper for 20 years, and also a hunter and fisherman.
“So I spent all of my growing up years doing that with him.”
That’s where the avid interest in the outdoors in general was sparked. And with the move to Alberta, Little found a way of life that seemed a bit more relaxed compared to where he was from. The change in pace has agreed with him.
“I liked it, so I decided to stay,” he said. “As far as the job itself goes, I like the variety. I never know what I’m going to be doing on a day to day basis.
“There could be anything from a moose in someone’s backyard to someone over-limiting on fish out on Buffalo Lake.”
And speaking of over-limiting on fish, Little said folks across the community can help out by reporting suspicious or unlawful incidents they may spot or come across.
”We rely heavily on the public to call in about violations,” he said.
Reports can be called into what’s known as the RAP line (Report a Poacher) at 1-800-642-3800.
Meanwhile, there are other perks of the job to enjoy.
“I like quadding and snowmobiling, and I get to do a lot of that,” he added. “I also get to meet members of the public, have conversations and learn about the area,” he said, adding that working in different regions around the province has also been a plus.
He also enjoys heading to schools to do presentations on everything from bear awareness for the younger kids to discussing the general rules about hunting and fishing for the older students.
Question and answer sessions at special functions hosted by Ducks Unlimited for example are also key ways to get the word out about the mission of the Fish and Wildlife department in general, he said.
Little added that if anyone wants to touch base with the Stettler office, they are encouraged to call 403-742-7510 and leave a message should he be out on a call. He’s the sole officer for the local office, so he may not be there but he will absolutely do his best to get in touch.
He said that currently, people can also make an appointment to see him as well.
“It’s about being able to go home at night and know that I made a difference. I like to hunt and fish, and I want my kids to be able to hunt and fish, so we all need to protect our resources,” he said. “It’s such a vulnerable thing.
“If I can stop one person from going out and over-limiting on pike on Buffalo Lake, or from shooting a moose without a licence, it makes it all worthwhile.
“The people I have met so far, such as the local trapper and landowners, have (also) all been friendly and welcoming. Being a law enforcement officer in a smaller town has its challenges, as everyone knows who you are and, depending on their choices, ends up on either the wrong or right side of the law.
“However, I feel that the people I’ve talked to so far support me being here to protect the resources.”