Justin Millett is a conservation officer in Quesnel. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Observer)

Justin Millett is a conservation officer in Quesnel. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Observer)

HOMETOWN HERO: Quesnel conservation officer Justin Millett

Love of outdoors leads to career as COS

Being a conservation officer is the best job Justin Millett could have asked for.

“My job takes me to some of the neatest and most exciting corners of B.C.,” he said from his Quesnel office located on the fourth floor of the provincial government building on Barlow Avenue. “There are many places where people will pay a lot of money to get to see —traveling to Bowron Lake, for example, and I get to go there as part of my job. There are lots of exciting things to do, exciting things to see, and exciting things to experience. It’s just all around very rewarding.”

Millett is one of two conservation officers in Quesnel and shares his office with Kyle Bueckert from Grand Forks.

Millett grew up in southern Ontario and has always been passionate about the outdoors, including hunting and fishing.

Before completing his one year of field training in Williams Lake, Millett worked as a caterer in Edmonton at Rogers Place, providing food for NHL team teams and other premium clients.

“I honestly didn’t know a whole lot about Quesnel but threw my name in, and here I am,” Millett said, having noticed a job opening with the Conservation Officer Service in B.C., which he has now worked with for just over three years.

Millett tries not to dwell too much on perhaps one of the most challenging parts, euthanizing wildlife, and described euthanization as the only option to prevent a long and agonizing death for an arrow-shot deer that was recently located wandering in Quesnel. When bears are euthanized in city limits, he doubles down on public awareness and outreach to prevent it from happening in the future.

“We’ve definitely had a lot of happy stories,” Millett added on a lighter note, recalling a deer with a tomato cage planter stuck on its head in Williams Lake. “It took us a long time to catch up to the deer, but we eventually were able to free it of the cage and have it run on its way.”

Earlier this year, Millett described a bear having wandered onto Front Street in Quesnel, where it set itself up in a tree where many people gathered to take pictures. Because there was no history of conflict with this particular bear, conservation officers were able to tranquilize and relocate it.

“We would be lost without other agencies,” Millett said of the RCMP, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resource Officers. “With only two conservation officers in Quesnel, our phone is constantly ringing after hours for injured wildlife, conflict wildlife and different offenses, and if we ever want to get any sleep whatsoever, we rely heavily on them.”

While many aspects of his job make him smile, Millett called it most exciting seeing and hearing from youth who share their experiences of the outdoors, including their first time hunting or fishing.

Millett also volunteers with the Quesnel Volunteer Fire Department and Quesnel Search and Rescue in his spare time.

“I think it’s very important to be a member of your community and do something with your free time to help give back,” he said. “Those two volunteer positions are also very rewarding, and they have their own set of challenges to help develop me personally and professionally as well.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: rebecca.dyok@quesnelobserver.com

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