President & CEO
Kevin comes from a diverse corporate, recreational, and wildlife conservation background. With a BPE in Administration from the University of Alberta, he has 23 years of experience as a consultant working with industry, all levels of government, and the non-profit sector.
Since 1998 Kevin has earned a strong reputation as a Project Manager & Communications Specialist. For 17 years he has provided consulting services to the University of Alberta, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD), Alberta Education, and many private businesses and non-profit agencies. Projects have focussed on initiating and administering wildlife management programs, developing and facilitating safety guidelines for Alberta’s school system, assessments, environmental scanning, and extensive report-writing.
Aside from his consulting services, he also owns and operates a successful professional outfitting & guiding business (Venture North Outfitting), hosting big game and bird game hunters from around the world since 2001. An integral part of that business involves interaction with a variety of wildlife, travel into remote backcountry destinations, and regular close-range encounters with a variety of predators e.g., black bears, grizzly bears, coyotes, wolves, and more. Through his 14 years as a professional outfitter & guide, Kevin has gained an intimate understanding of wildlife ecology, animal behaviour, how to avoid and respond in wildlife conflict situations, and most importantly how to safely and effectively implement non-lethal defense strategies and tools (such as pepper spray) to defend against predatory wildlife.
Further, Kevin has been a member of the outdoor media since 1992. As a multiple award-winning outdoor writer/photographer and active member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada, he has brought his diverse outdoor skills and knowledge to readers in hundreds of magazine, online, and newspaper articles and columns. He, along with his wife Heather, have been guest hosts on several outdoor television shows, co-hosts of a popular hunting television show and currently serve as co-hosts of Canadian Outdoorsman TV. Through their broadcasts, they continue to share their expertise and interest in hunting, tracking, trapping, and encountering wildlife with viewers.
Maintaining a passionate interest in predators, Kevin enthusiastically brings awareness & education to his clients through Wild Encounters Ltd.
Problem Wildlife Specialist & Course Instructor
Lionel Veldkamp is a retired Fish & Wildlife Officer who spent 35 years working with problem wildlife and enforcement across Alberta.
He grew up in Innisfail, Alberta and he spent much of his time in the west country near Caroline. There he learned hunting, fishing & trapping skills from his father & grandfather.
Lionel’s career began as a Problem Wildlife Culturist in Edmonton, Edson, and then Red Deer. This work had him dealing with bears, wolves, and ungulate issues. In 1981 he was promoted to a Fish and Wildlife Officer in Peace River. This position was followed by postings in Claresholm and Vegreville.
In the early years of his career he was called upon to work with both black and grizzly bears because of his problem wildlife background. It was during this time that he helped create and work on the province’s Bear Response Team – a group of highly trained Fish and Wildlife Officers who deal with grizzly and other wildlife attacks. This team exercises a specialized approach to dealing with the aggressive tendencies of grizzly bears when caught and released.
During the latter part of his career Lionel was the Regional Problem Wildlife Specialist for the Prairies Region. In this role he mentored and assisted Fish and Wildlife Officers that had wildlife complaints within their districts that they were not sure how to deal with. Lionel also played an active role in a grizzly bear research project in the Banff and Kananaskis areas, catching bears for researchers. As a Specialist he promoted the Bear Awareness program with live interviews on television and he also appeared on the Rutherford radio talk show.
Lionel was awarded the W.I.S.E. award by the Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association in 2010. This award acknowledged his work in promoting conservation education, leadership in mentoring new people to the sport of hunting, and enjoying the outdoors.
Problem Wildlife Specialist & Course Instructor
Adam Christie worked for 20 years as a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer in British Columbia. Throughout his career, he responded to thousands of human-wildlife conflict situations across the province.
As a problem-wildlife specialist, he has developed skills in recognizing & categorizing wildlife behaviour, assessing the resulting risks to people, and how best to mitigate those risks; whether by advising the persons involved or actively intervening himself. This experience has given Adam a deep understanding of tools & strategies used to professionally manage wildlife interactions with people in whatever environment they occur.
In addition, Adam served as a Firearm Instructor in the British Columbia CO Service for 14 years, providing training to in-service officers & recruits. He eventually advanced into the position of Chief Firearm Instructor. In this role he was involved in developing & delivering the curriculum of firearms instruction provided to the Wildlife Officer recruits of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as part of their joint training initiative.
Since retiring from the CO Service in 2014 he has continued to put his skills & experience to use working on a Mountain Caribou recovery project and providing wildlife monitoring services in Alberta’s Oil Sands operations.
Consultant & Course Instructor
Craig Lafleur has a diverse background in public service and industrial safety training. Growing up in Vanderhoof, British Columbia, his father played a significant role in introducing him to hunting and other outdoor pursuits. His professional accreditations combined with his intense interest in predatory wildlife species, make Craig an exceptional asset to Wild Encounters.
An active firefighter for over 13 years, Craig currently holds rank as his fire department Captain and training instructor both internally and for outside agencies. He also steps into live burn scenarios to act as an interior fire Safety Officer, overseeing the proper training and safety of the teams.
Craig’s analytical approach to work and his recreational pastimes have allowed him to gain a wealth of wildlife knowledge, and a specialization in predator management.
Firearms Course Instructor
Born and raised in rural Alberta, Dean’s family history is deeply rooted in the outdoor lifestyle. Hunting and shooting sports have been an integral part of his life for as long as he can remember. Securing his first Firearms Acquisition Certificate (F.A.C.) and rifle at the age of 12, firearms have since become a focal point for his career.
Dean’s earliest professional services involved teaching safe firearms use & marksmanship at a busy commercial gun range in 2003. During that time he also worked as a Range Safety Officer (R.S.O.) and trained new staff in that capacity as well. In 2005 Dean became a licensed gunsmith and launched his company Tactical Advantage Ltd. Then, in 2006, he became an accredited Canadian Firearms Instructor/Examiner. He has been actively teaching classes, training students, and facilitating certification challenges since then. Over the past 10 years, Dean has gained a strong reputation for both his proprietary R.S.O. course and his professional knowledge, skill, and delivery of the Canadian Firearms Safety Course.
In 2014, Dean also began consulting to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) for future gunsmithing and related courses slated to begin in 2016.