Judge says sentences must attract public attention - Evansburg district
An investigation carried out by members of the Natural Resources Service, Special Investigation Section, resulted in eight people sentenced to pay total fines of $42,000. One of the accused was sent to jail for a month.
On April 20, 1998, four Moon Lake area residents were tried in Evansburg provincial court on numerous Wildlife Act charges. The Court heard that several Treaty Indians were hunting wildlife, primarily elk, in the Moon Lake area in December, 1996 and January, 1997.
On the evening of Dec. 12, 1996, a uniformed wildlife officer attended the residence of Julien Dufault and found four freshly killed elk. The officer was informed that the elk were killed by four natives who were at the Dufault residence at the time of the check. Later, on Dec. 13, 1996, four elk were illegally sold in Edmonton. Two of the sales were to an undercover wildlife officer. In early January of 1997, an undercover wildlife officer accompanied two native males to the Dufault residence. During this time the officer learned that Shawn Dufault was actively hunting wildlife with several native individuals, using their Treaty hunting rights to cover his illegal hunting activity. Shawn Dufault told the undercover officer that 12 elk had already been killed and that he killed half of them himself.
Judge J.E Enright commented that there are not enough wildlife officers to effectively patrol the vast areas their districts encompass. He stated that deterrent penalties must be levied in order to curb unlawful hunting and the Courts must impose sentences that will attract the attention of the public.
Judge Enright convicted Shawn Dufault on two counts of hunting wildlife during a closed season, one count of unlawful possession of wildlife, and one count of having a loaded firearm in a vehicle. He was sentenced to one month in jail and ordered to pay fines of $16,100. A firearm and the wildlife seized during the investigation were ordered forfeited to the Crown. His right to hold a recreational hunting licence was suspended for a period of five years.
Julien Dufault, Colleen Dufault and Raymond Dufault were all convicted of unlawful possession of wildlife. They were each ordered to pay a fine of $2,000.
On April 22, 1998, four of the Treaty Indians associated with Shawn Dufault appeared in Edmonton provincial court. Following guilty pleas on charges of trafficking in elk and moose, they were handed total fines of $20,000.
"Stop shooting, those are swans!" - Fort McMurray
Mistaking swans for snow geese will have a Fort McMurray shooter paying off a heavy fine.
A provincial court judge sent a strong message on March 26, when he ordered Garry Clarke to pay fines of $4,200 for unlawful possession of wildlife, failing to leave attached a feathered wing to a migratory game bird, using lead shot too close to a water body and hunting wildlife during a closed season.
The investigation began on Oct. 8, 1997, when the Fort McMurray Natural Resources Service office received information through the Report-A-Poacher hot line that two bird hunters, associated with a dark-colored Dodge van, were shooting at swans. The violation was in progress at a pond near Gregoire Lake Provincial Park, approximately 22 kilometres south of Fort McMurray. While the complainant was talking to a wildlife officer on the phone, shots could be heard in the background and the caller could be heard trying to stop the shooter by yelling, "Stop shooting, those are swans!"
Officers responded and stopped the suspect vehicle while it was travelling northbound towards Fort McMurray. A number of birds were found inside the van: three immature swans, one goose, and eight ducks. All of the ducks and the goose were completely plucked and their wings had been removed. When questioned, Clarke admitted to shooting all of the birds with a 12-gauge shotgun using lead shot. Both Clarke and his hunting partner claimed they had mistakenly thought the swans were snow geese.
The judge ordered the shotgun and the birds forfeited to the Crown. Clarke was prohibited from possessing a recreational hunting licence until 2001.