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District fish and wildlife officer goes full-time

Levi Neufeld started part-time position last spring but recently took on the role
MVT-Levi Neufeld
Levi Neufeld has since assuming the position of acting district officer at the Sundre Fish and Wildlife Office last spring more recently officially taken on the full-time role. Dan Singleton/MVP Staff

SUNDRE — What started last spring as a part-time position has since become a full-time role for the area’s new Fish and Wildlife district officer.

In May, Levi Neufeld became the acting district officer for the Sundre-Olds region, spending one week every month in Sundre assisting with patrols and reviewing files.

Toward the end of the summer, Neufeld relocated with his family to Sundre, where he officially took on the role of district officer.

Prior to arriving in the community, he had served seasonally for Parks Canada out of Waterton Lakes National Park as well as Manitoba Conservation where he was based out of Seven Sisters Falls, and then Alberta Parks, working out of Hinton.

By 2015, he was working full-time with Alberta Fish and Wildlife and was posted to Barrhead before eventually taking in 2019 a promotion to Hanna, where he continued to work until transferring to the Sundre-Olds district.

“I grew up in Pincher Creek,” he wrote by email in response to questions. “So, Sundre feels like home to me, just without the wind.”

Since he and his family enjoy spending plenty of time outdoors, Neufeld called Sundre the “perfect community.”

To date, he said all of the interactions he’s experienced with residents and people in the region have been very positive and that he looks forward to becoming part of the community.

Throughout his formative years, Neufeld recalled regularly hiking, fishing, hunting or off-roading with family and friends.

“One of my friend’s father was a Fish and Wildlife officer and we always joked about doing that as a career when we graduated,” he said about what inspired him to pursue this career path.  

After graduating, none of the jobs he tried out ever provided the level of fulfilment and satisfaction he craved.

Eventually gaining employment with the National Parks service doing maintenance work like cleaning washrooms, Neufeld had the opportunity to go on some ride-alongs with park wardens.

One fateful day as he began a shift preparing to go clean outhouses, Neufeld watched with a sense of admiration and perhaps a hint of envy while a warden saddled up a mount in preparation of embarking on a multiple-day patrol in the backcountry.  

“Needless to say I was sold,” he said, adding that experience quickly prompted him to enrol in college to start the path toward becoming a resource law enforcement officer.

His time studying introduced him to a variety of jobs and locations. Joining Fish and Wildlife allows an officer not only to become a member of a community, but also to have an impact on conservation management, he said.

“Since I was hired, I have never looked back.”

While there are many aspects of the job he is passionate about, Neufeld said when asked what he most enjoys about the job that among his top preferences are “working with local stakeholders and learning the issues they face and trying to work together (to find) a solution.”

For example, that might involve collaborating with landowners regarding issues ranging from trespassing to night hunting, he said.  

Neufeld added that donning his proverbial detective cap is another part of the job he relishes.

“I also enjoy the investigative side of our job. Often times, our files are about following the bread crumb trail, whether it be for a shot-and-left moose, night hunting issue, or hunting (during the) closed season. The files can get complex and challenging.”

On the subject of the job's challenges, he said arguably the toughest part of the position is being able to be everywhere at once. With the district encompassing a vast amount of territory stretching from south of Caroline to Cremona and east to Torrington all the way west to Ya Ha Tinda, the two fish and wildlife officers serving the regional office have no shortage of ground to cover. That means leaning on tips from as well as working closely with the public, he said.  

“The only way we can be successful is with the help of members of the communities keeping an eye out as well.”

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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