Litter bugs and snakes

Lindsey Leko

Spring is finally here. As the temperature starts to get warmer and the snow has disappeared, it unfortunately shows much of the litter and garbage that was dumped over the winter. For some reason people feel that it is okay to drive outside of an urban centre and dump their garbage, so they do not have to pay tipping fees at the local landfill. You see it in all areas of the province and it is really too bad.

There may be times a bag of garbage has fallen or blown out of a truck, but there are people who have a large item of garbage blow out of their truck or trailer; they slow down and then keep going once they see that no one stops or makes a fuss.

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This type of waste is often found beside empty farms, along roads or piled up at available garbage receptacles. These are all examples of littering and an offence that conservation officers take seriously.

Conservation officers apply a strict approach to incidents of intentional littering on Crown or private land and violations can result in fines or even charges under the Environment Management and Protection Act.

The fine for littering is $580 and for more serious cases, a court appearance may be necessary.

Those who litter don’t do it by accident. There was a conscious decision to dump garbage in hope of not getting caught. Some people dump their garbage out in the country so that don’t have to pay the landfill fees. Other times, the landfill is closed and it was too much of a hassle to wait until it’s open.

I have stopped people after they have littered, and a very common reply once they have been caught is that they will go back and clean it up. But by this time it is too late – they already made the decision to litter. If I had not seen them, or stopped them, they would not have gone back on their own to clean up.

When officers are called out to illegal dump sites, I am amazed at the garbage that is often dumped. So much of this stuff can be recycled and in most cases can be picked up or dropped off for free. Items like electronics, cardboard, glass, plastics, used oil, filters, bottles and cans are examples of things we find that can be easily recycled, as opposed to being dumped on private or public land.

It is also amazing the personal information people throw out. Everything from credit card receipts to items with a social insurance number written on it. All of these are gravy for a criminal wishing to exploit your identity and maybe go on a shopping spree.

Can I dump or store items on my farmland?

Refuse is defined as, “remains, by-product and discarded materials resulting from domestic, commercial, industrial or agricultural activities and includes garbage, rubbish, street cleanings and yard clippings,” but does not include liquid domestic sewage.

The intent of the legislation is not to regulate refuse generated within and on these properties and then disposed of on that same property. But it is unlawful to accept waste from other users, as it has to be your own household waste only.

Under no circumstances is a landowner allowed to accept waste from a contractor who has demolished a building on another property.

This is an issue in Saskatchewan and continues today. Some contractors will try to make a deal with the landowner to demolish one of their buildings. In addition, they will tell you that they are just storing the waste there to recycle the material. In the end, this rarely happens and the landowner is responsible for the material and clean-up.

Landowners are also not allowed to dispose of demolition waste from buildings they own on another property. The waste being disposed of must be generated on that land and can’t be brought in from another property.

Can I burn rubbish or refuse on my land?

From time to time, I also check the rural burning reports sent to the city and find people burning things they should not be.

The days of burning are done in Saskatchewan. In years past, people used to simply light a match on a cool wet day to get rid of rubbish. Today, the only things legal on your farm to burn are clean lumber (not painted, stained/treated or preserved), tree branches and trimmings, sloughs, bales and crop residue.

Where can farmers dispose of grain bags?

Grain bags are not to be burned, as the smoke is toxic as with other plastics. In March 2018, the government announced a new grain bag recycling program for producers.

The new program is run by Cleanfarms, who will create 20 grain bag recycling collection sites throughout Saskatchewan. Visit for more information.

Is it legal to possess a boa or python as a pet in Saskatchewan?

I am pretty sure I have covered this in the past but I will repeat it again, as I just seized a constrictor snake recently. Constrictor snakes, such as the boa and python, are illegal to have as pets in Saskatchewan. There is no permit that can be obtained to retain them. Many of these snakes were purchased in Alberta, where they are legal to possess, and either knowingly and unknowingly brought back into Saskatchewan.

We do our best to find homes outside of the province for these seized snakes.

This is a reminder that the big game draw is open until May 25, so now is the time to start considering and making plans as to what species and zones you want to apply for this fall.

Until next time  … stay safe.

— Editor’s note: Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 26 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. For many years, Officer Leko contributed a column to local papers on a variety of issues related to hunting, fishing, and other resource-related issues. If you have questions, please contact

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