licence first: Sundre District
It doesn't pay to wander onto private property, kill
a moose and then speed away to purchase a licence to cover the crime.
Mike Aaron Melanson, 30, of Innisfail found that out
a few hours after the deed of downing a moose with his bow last fall.
On Oct. 26, 2002, a landowner north of Sundre, Alberta, observed a truck
parked on the road allowance adjacent his property. After speaking with
Melanson, the vehicle's occupant, the landowner became suspicious that
an animal had been illegally killed on his land. When questions started
to focus on these suspicions, Melanson sped from the area at a high
rate of speed. Due to snow covering the licence plate, a plate number
could not be obtained.
Tracks and a blood trail were followed to a section of bush where a
dead cow moose was found. The conservation officer from Sundre was contacted
through the Report A Poacher line and he responded to the scene to investigate
Approximately three hours later, a vehicle matching
the description given to the officer was observed parked at a sporting
goods store in Caroline, Alberta. A check inside the store revealed
Melanson had just purchased a moose licence.
Melanson was confronted and soon admitted to killing
the moose earlier that day with his bow. His plan was to have his wife
return to the kill sight with a different vehicle to see if the moose
lay where he had killed it. Later he was going to return and remove
On Dec. 6, 2002, Melanson appeared in Didsbury provincial
court before Traffic Commissioner P.M. McIlhargey and plead guilty to
three charges. McIlhargey advised Melanson that these violations are
hard to detect by officers and there must be a serious deterrent to
Melanson and others who hear about this violation of the province's
Melanson was ordered to pay fines totaling $2,000.
For hunting without a licence, Melanson was fined $1,000. He was also
ordered to pay a fine of $500 each for the charges of hunting on land
without permission, and for discharging an arrow from a road allowance.
The Crown withdrew a charge of abandonment. In addition to the financial
penalty imposed, Melanson was also prohibited from hunting in Alberta
for one year.
guiding outfit shut down: Fort Vermilion District
Conservation officers shut down a guided hunt in the
Fort Vermilion area, in a joint investigation that ended with an illegal
outfitter being fined $4,025 and eventually deported from Canada.
The investigation began on Sept. 25, 2002, when conservation
officers in Fort Vermilion received information that a German resident
was operating illegally as a guide in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU)
534 north of Fort Vermilion. Officers contacted RCMP to initiate a joint
investigation with Canada Citizenship and Immigration as Alberta conservation
officers are not appointed by law to address immigration issues. The
suspect, 42-year-old Bernd Behrens, was found to be associated with
several aliases, making his true identity difficult to confirm.
Behrens was found to have no recognized status in
Canada that would permit him to lawfully work in the country. Federal
inquiries revealed that Behrens was charged with fraud in High Level
in 1995. To avoid answering to the charges of fraud, he had fled the
country for Germany and the charges were eventually dismissed.
Provincial inquiries found that Behrens had been representing
himself as a guide as far back as 1995 throughout the Peace River region.
Past guiding permits were traced and numerous outfitters were contacted
from Slave Lake to Manning.
Conservation officers learned that Behrens' hunting
group would be out in the Vermilion area later in the week of Sept.
25. This allowed officers to take statements from other guides that
were working with Behrens that week. Officers found that Behrens was
guiding moose and black bear for two German hunters for a significant
amount of money.
Fish and Wildlife and members of the RCMP intercepted
Behrens' group at a staging area. Behrens was arrested for Immigration
and Refuge Act violations and statutory declarations were taken from
each of the German hunters. The German hunters had paid a total of $11,000
Euro dollars, (approximately $15,000 CAD) for an all-inclusive moose
and black bear hunt. The costs included everything from airfare to taxidermy,
up-front. The hunters thought they were going to be flown into a lodge
on a remote lake via float plane, but instead spent a rough week wall
tenting and quading in the muskeg.
Behrens was charged with:
- Being a foreign national working in Canada, contrary
to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
- For gain or reward, guiding another person hunting
wildlife, contrary to the Wildlife Act, and
- For using a credit card knowing that it was obtained
by the commission in Canada of an offence, contrary to the provisions
of the Criminal Code.
A bail hearing was conducted and an amount of $10,000
was set as bail. Behrens could not post bail and was sent to Shaftsbury
Penitentiary to await his trial that was set for Dec. 3.
Behrens appeared on the trial date, along with all
seven crown witnesses. The trial was re-scheduled for Dec. 17. On Dec.
10, however, the case was disposed of in Peace River provincial court.
Behrens entered guilty pleas to illegally working in Canada, and illegally
guiding for gain or reward in Alberta. The remaining charge was withdrawn.
For the charge of illegally working in Canada, Behrens was fined $2,300.
For the charge of illegally providing guiding services for gain or reward
in Alberta, Behrens was ordered to pay a fine of $1,725.
Behrens has since been deported from Canada.
invite wildlife and fisheries enforcement officers from all jurisdictions
to submit current and significant cases for inclusion in The Notebook
segment of the publication. All details must be accurate public record.
Please send case file details and photographs to:
THE ALBERTA GAME WARDEN
5201 - 50 Avenue
Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada T9A 0S7