Weyburn Wildlife Federation struggling to continue during COVID, seeking more members

The past year has been very tough financially for the Weyburn Wildlife Federation, but the local organization is moving forward into 2021, and are selling Weyburn Wildlife Federation memberships.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the operations and fundraising of the Weyburn Wildlife Federation has been severely impacted.

article continues below

The WWF had to close their indoor archery range at Goodwater due to public health orders, and they could not hold their annual awards night, which also doubles as a major annual fundraiser for the WWF.

The outdoor range will be available once temperatures warm up this spring, and the WWF will have some online raffles for fundraising.

“We look forward to public health restrictions being lifted, so that we can get back to in-person meetings, and fundraisers,” said president Larry Olfert.

“These not only raise funds, but the storytelling and camaraderie that is shared is irreplaceable. For now, any member can attend our monthly meeting via Zoom by simply giving us their email address for notifications,” he added.

The Weyburn organization has a long and storied past in the area, and are moving forward with a new executive, headed up by the new president, and his executive includes vice president Shaun Ortman; treasurer Terra Hartley Ortman; secretary Tricia Kot; Kelly Kozij, District 4 representative; Morley Forsgren, membership and archery chair; Terrie Swanson, archery assistant; Colton Tochor, fisheries and rearing pond; Ryan Englot, fish weights and measures; and John Van WinKoop, communications.

The WWF was originally known as the Weyburn Fish and Game League, founded in the mid-1930s, which later became affiliated with the Saskatchewan Fish and Game League.

The local branch of the league was active with a fish restocking program, hatching, raising and releasing pheasants and partridges, hunting dog competitions, a crow and magpie predator program, feeding birds and deer during snowbound winters and improving relations between hunters and farmers.

The Saskatchewan Fish and Game League became the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation in 1969, and the Weyburn branch followed shortly after. The federation was incorporated in 1986 under the Societies Act.

The Weyburn Wildlife Federation built the Nickle Lake walleye rearing pond in 1989, and with help from the City of Weyburn and the Saskatchewan Fisheries branch, members worked to supply walleye fingerlings to Nickle Lake for 20 years before problems developed and the pond was no longer operated.

The new fisheries chairman, Colton Tochor, is working to rectify the issues involved in retaining water so walleye fingerlings can once again be produced in the pond.

The WWF has had different homes. For 50 years, meetings, family functions and trap shoots were held on Highway 13 east of Weyburn, where in 1963 Frank Hammer had donated one acre of land and the WWF purchased one acre. The WWF also purchased the former Wheaton School house from Queen Elizabeth School and moved it to that location.

In more recent years, the WWF was approached by the South Weyburn Community Group, and the federation was able to buy the South Weyburn School building, which is now their current home location, just south of Weyburn on Highway 35.

Membership in the wildlife federation helps to support fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, and outdoor education initiatives taking place in the province.

The earliest records of memberships shows the league had 14 members in 1939, and in the 1950s to 60s numbers ranged from 100 to 282, and in 1972 they jumped to 445 members, and 553 members in 1973. Membership levels reached a high of 614 in 1982, then dipped to the 300-range in the 1980s and 90s, and the numbers have remained in the 300s since 2012, with 355 registered in 2020.

There are several way you can renew a membership, such as through local members you have bought your membership from in the past, or you can pick them locally at Weyburn Co-op Home Center, Home Hardware, Prairie Wind Recreational or Western Prime Meats.

Memberships can also be bought online through the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation website.