Gone but not forgotten:
Barrhead conservation officers netted the conviction
of an outfitter on three Wildlife Act charges May 1, following a joint-force
force investigation that wrapped up just a few days short of the two-year
limit for evidence.
The 29-month investigation was launched in conjunction
with several U.S. wildlife authorities, into the illegal activities of
Craig Jensen, 29, of Edson, dating back to November 1999.
Jensen's appearance in Westlock provincial court reaffirmed
that Wildlife Act offenses continue to be treated seriously by the courts;
especially against those involved in wildlife-related commerce who choose
not to abide by the rules. Subject to a plea agreement submitted to the
judge by both defense counsel and the prosecution, Jensen plead guilty
to three of four charges brought before the courts. He was ordered to
pay more than $4,700 in penalties.
The court heard that on Nov. 14, 1999, a non-resident
alien hunter from Wisconsin arrived in Alberta for a prearranged hunt
with Outfitter/Guide Craig Jensen. Under Jensen's guidance, this client
hunted an area north of Westlock in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 505.
Two or three days into his hunt, the client was approached by a local
resident in the area who inquired as to whether appropriate permission
had been obtained in order for the client to hunt on the property in question.
The client advised the resident that he had been placed there by his guide,
Jensen, to hunt for deer. He further stated that he believed Jensen had
obtained the proper authorization from him to hunt there. Shortly after
this encounter, Jensen was contacted and together they attended the landowner's
residence to confirm that permission had in fact been granted. Once permission
was confirmed, Jensen's client continued to hunt the same area until he
succeeded in killing a large antlered white-tailed deer. After successfully
concluding his hunt, the client returned to the United States with both
the antlers and cape from the deer. The client's 1999 deer license, valid
in WMU 510, was used as the document to export his deer out of Alberta.
Subsequent investigation revealed that Jensen's allocations
(an outfitter's allocated privilege to guide a hunter, or have a hunter
guided in a specific area), was not valid in the particular area where
the encounter and the harvest of the deer had taken place. The WMU where
Jensen's client's allocation was valid was in the more northern WMU of
510. Based on this information, the deer had been illegally hunted and
illegally killed; and the subsequent possession of the animal and its
exportation were illegal.
In addition to these facts, the court also heard that
although Jensen was aware of the requirement to report his client's success
on an Outfitter/Guide activity report, he neglected to do so. Prior knowledge
of his requirement to do so was supported by the fact that Jensen had
submitted his Outfitter/Guide activity report in 1998 as a condition of
his outfitting permit.
Statistics gained from the submission of these forms
are used by both biological and enforcement staff in many ways to monitor
outfitters' success and activities throughout the spring and fall seasons.
Upon hearing all the evidence and confirming the allegation
with Jensen, Judge M. White ordered Jensen to pay a fine of $3,500 for
guiding for gain or reward without the prescribed authorization. In relation
to the illegal export of the deer from Canada (a Federal charge), Judge
White ordered Jensen to pay a fine of $1,000. Jensen was additionally
fined a $57 penalty for the offense of failing to submit an outfitter/guide
activity report. All fines were further tallied with an additional $50
Outfitter allocations are a valuable commodity in today's
outfitting business. At the last Alberta Professional Outfitter's Society
conference, a single right to an allocation in WMU 508 was being offered
for sale at $20,000. This WMU lies just to the south of WMU 505 and holds
very similar habitat and quality of deer. Hunting deer in the improper
zones weighs against proper game management and can have a negative impact
on the resource.
The Alberta Professional Outfitters Society has gone
on record as strongly supporting an increase in penalties handed out by
the courts for these types of offenses. Jensen's Wildlife Act convictions
over the past few years relating to his outfitting operations are currently
awaiting review by the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society Disciplinary
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