International Day of Forests highlights Canadian Rangers

Wildfire smoke covers the landscape during a helicopter reconnaissance flight to gauge the extend of the wildfire situation during Operation LENTUS in the vicinity of Fort St. James, British Columbia, on 07 September, 2023. Photo Credit: Corporal Alexandre Brisson, Canadian Armed Forces Photo

Kateryna Bandura
Lookout Editor

The International Day of Forests, marked on Mar. 21, is an excellent reminder to British Columbians of how lucky we are to be surrounded by unique rainforests, a treasure to the province and Canada. It’s also a great reminder of our need to protect them.

Unfortunately, wildfire officials predict an early and active spring wildfire season. Persistent drought conditions have left the soil parched, and low snowpack levels threaten forests across the province and beyond.

Fighting the fires and preserving these natural habitats is but one of many duties of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members as part of Operation (Op) Lentus. Last year, almost 500 CAF members were deployed to B.C. forests to help fight the fires.

Members from 38, 39 and 41 Canadian Brigade Group arrive in Vanderhoof, British Columbia, to support the British Columbia Wildfire Service due to changes in the fire situation in the northern part of the province during Operation LENTUS 23-08, in Vanderhoof, British Columbia on 30 August, 2023. Photo Credit: Corporal Alexandre Brisson, Canadian Armed Forces Photo

Last year marked the first time Canadian Rangers joined fellow CAF members in responding to wildfires in this region of northern B.C. The fires forced local communities to relocate to a camp, where the Rangers played a crucial role in providing predator defense against displaced and disoriented animals, including grizzlies and cougars. While members were focused on firefighting efforts, the Rangers acted as their eyes and ears, ensuring the safety and security of the site.

For Ranger (Rgr) David Brideau, that involved deterring a black bear from their displaced persons site in Vanderhoof during breakfast.

“First thought is, ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to handle a black bear up in a kitchen?’ That bear can’t tell you ‘I want your bacon’,” Rgr Brideau says. “When you’re looking at the face of a bear, your adrenaline rushes for sure.”

Corporal Josh Parsons

Rgr Brideau was called only a few days before Sept. 1, 2023, to deploy to Germansen Landing, and he agreed without hesitation. Due to the intense fires in the region, he was relocated to Manson Creek and later to Vanderhoof. This was his first operation with the Canadian Rangers.

“I knew all the training with the Rangers and the previous experience I had with the Regular Force prepared me for whatever the operation would present,” Rgr Brideau said. “CAF does a very good job at ensuring you’re well-versed in what to expect on these deployments.”

Ranger David Brideau

Reverting to his Ranger training, Rgr Brideau knew instinctively how to handle the bear in the kitchen. Together with the other Ranger on watch, he successfully deterred the bear using his voice. When the bear returned a few more times, they resorted to bear bangers. Bear bangers resemble a pen with a capsule; you pull a little spring and shoot that overhead. It launches from this little pen, and at approximately 20-30 feet away, it produces a loud banging sound. The intent is to spook the bear away from the area.

Rgr Brideau knows exactly how it feels to be displaced: he was displaced out of his dwelling in 2017 when the fires raged around his town of Williams Lake.

“It’s not the people’s fault they’re being displaced from their homes,” he says. “Just knowing that somebody is there to help speaks volumes for somebody who’s displaced.”

Being involved in Op Lentus hit close to home for another Canadian Rangers member, Corporal (Cpl) Josh Parsons of the Vanderhoof Patrol. Cpl Parsons is a member of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nations, the boundary for which lies just west of where most of Op Lentus took place.

Cpl Parsons also provided predator control for the firefighting personnel and the camps.

Although he did not experience close encounters with wildlife during the Op, Cpl Parsons says he was well-prepared beforehand, having completed multiple predator awareness training courses and field exercises.

“The forest is my sanctuary,” Cpl Parsons says. “It’s where I go to get a break from the societal noise and to recharge my batteries. Meat in the freezer is a bonus!”

The Op allowed him to meet and work with various people and form life-long friendships. He says that, besides CAF support to fight the fires, he would love to see some environmental rehabilitation initiatives.

“One idea could be addressing the ‘fuel loading’ that has happened over the number of years. Maybe clearing out all the dead windfall and turning it into compost or something to that affect,” Cpl Parsons says.

Both Cpl Parsons and Rgr Brideau say Op Lentus was a success and that they would be happy to participate again if called upon.

“The public may not quite understand how the military works, especially if a whole bunch of machines and green uniforms walk into your small remote community,” Rgr Brideau said. “The Canadian Rangers’ involvement in these efforts is crucial for the success of the B.C. Wildlife Services and for what the CAF is there to assist with.”

For more information on the Canadian Rangers and how to join, visit

Filed Under: News ReleaseTop Stories


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.