The role of park wardens in conserving the Rouge

Rouge National Urban Park

National park wardens have an established presence at Rouge National Urban Park and are committed to responding effectively to incidents in the park. Working tirelessly to safeguard the park’s flora, fauna and farms, wardens have been proudly protecting Canada’s national parks for well over 100 years.

Park wardens in the past

In 1909, Parks Canada’s Warden Service was established in Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park. Then known as fire and game wardens, their work mainly focused on fighting wildfires and conducting backcountry patrols on horseback.

Park wardens today

The role of the Warden Service has evolved over the years and now park wardens are law enforcement specialists. Park wardens are enforcement professionals that provide service to Parks Canada sites across the nation. They ensure that legislation such as the Canada National Parks Act, the Species at Risk Act and, locally, the Rouge National Urban Park Act, are enforced and respected.

Park wardens in the Rouge

In the Rouge, a dedicated team of wardens proactively patrols the park all year to encourage responsible use and to respond to incidents. The regular duties of a park warden include foot, bike, ATV, and vehicle patrols, responding to incidents, issuing charges, compelling offenders to court, and conducting inspections to ensure the safety of visitors and the protection of the plants and animals that live in the park.

Working with Parks Canada biologists, wardens use tools like seasonal area closures to minimize human disturbances in ecologically sensitive park areas. Wardens may also monitor sensitive areas using remote cameras. They also help create public awareness campaigns to protect the park by, for example, preventing the spread of invasive rusty crayfish in park waters.

All of these tasks, plus providing educational information and setting up booths and displays at Parks Canada and community events keeps the warden team very busy throughout the year.

Accomplishments in the Rouge

In 2020 alone, the team responded to nearly 900 incidents relating to poaching, dumping, endangered species protection and fisheries violations. High visitation and frequent removal of plants and animals from the park – an illegal activity in all Parks Canada managed places – make Rouge one of the busiest locations for wardens to work in Canada. For the past two years, Rouge wardens have led the country in fisheries-related inspections and charges.

A rewarding profession

The hard work of park wardens is helping to bolster park protections while improving the park's ecological integrity, the livelihood of park farmers, and the health and safety of park visitors and surrounding communities.

“Serving the local community and building strong relationships with our partners, encourages participation in a greater effort to protect the natural environment and create a culture of stewardship at Rouge,” says Lucas Burnside, Rouge National Urban Park’s Warden Supervisor.

Lucas appreciates working with his team to bring Parks Canada’s proud law enforcement values to the Rouge.

“At this point in my career it is the diversity of the job and the challenge of building a team from the ground up, including opening a detachment space, allocation of necessary equipment, and finding the right personnel to do the job, which are the most rewarding aspects for me,” he says.

Wardens are the front line in Parks Canada’s effort to protect and safeguard Rouge National Urban Park and its precious resources, a role which for some is more than just an ordinary job. Adds Lucas, “for a lot of people, being a park warden is a way of life more than it is a job… how many people get to do for a living what they would pay to do in their own free time?”

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