The Province of Manitoba is opening a 24/7 centralized dispatch centre to support Conservation Officers across the province.

Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt and Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen made the announcement Wednesday morning. 

"Our Conservation Officers will have a dispatch available to them for officers to call, but more importantly, for officer safety, for officers to check in, for officers to run license plates, and things like that," explains Nesbitt.

He adds "Poachers aren't just poachers, they are criminals in some cases. We want to protect our officers and ensure they have safety in the field, and the ability to check in with a live person to indicate where they are and who they stopped. And then to have the service check back with them on a timer, perhaps 15 minutes or a half hour to ensure officer safety."

Nesbitt says this has been a long time coming. He notes this is a historic day as Manitoba Conservation has never had a proper dispatch service before. 

The centralized dispatch centre will be located in the City of Brandon.

Manitobans will continue to call the TIP (Turn In Poachers) line when witnessing illegal hunting/fishing activity.

"Those emergent calls will now be routed to the Brandon call centre and then go to officers to respond immediately." Nesbitt adds "Where before it went to the TIP line, but it didn't necessarily get out to the officers right away.  So, this will be an improvement for Manitobans who need a Conservation Officer in an emergent situation."

Manitoba Conservation is also in recruitment mode right now as they look to improve their service. Nine new officers will be graduating this summer from their training program in Alberta. Upon completing their training, they will join the complement of approximately 120 COs across the Province.

a man at a podiumJustice Minister and Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen speaks at the announcement