Listed below is one concluded court case from the "online" officer's notebook. If you would like to read all the wildlife and fisheries investigations and the final outcome of the court cases be sure to pickup your Alberta Game Warden magazine at your favorite bookstore. Or better yet, purchase a yearly subscription so you won't miss an issue.

  • Shoot first ask questions later: Evansburg District
  • Greed gets the best of Calgary man: Sundre District
  • Purchase licence first: Sundre District
  • Fish under the mattress: High Prairie District
  • Illegal guiding outfit shut down: Fort Vermilion District
  • A good time and a good fish fry: Fort McMurray District
  • To tell or not to tell.. that was the question: Valleyview District
  • Jacklighter fined : Edson District
  • Danger zone : Cold Lake District
  • A buck to remember: Valleyview District
  • Search warrants dismantle poaching network: Environment Canada
  • Father and son charges for illegal grizzly kill: Lac La Biche District
  • Joint operation sends pair to court: Edson District
  • Man charged for wasting bear hide: Wetaskiwin District
Report-A-Poacher Dial 1-800-642-3800

Purchase 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 further.

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 the moose.

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 game laws.

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.

Illegal 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.

We 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:

Jason Hanson
5201 - 50 Avenue
Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada T9A 0S7