Arrests at the city limits - Edmonton district
Knowing where you are hunting, having the appropriate permission to access the land and shooting only during legal hours are just some of the important elements contributing to an enjoyable hunting experience. However, if you break all three of these rules, even if you enjoy treaty hunting rights, expect to pay for the oversight.
On Oct. 17, 1998, a wildlife officer from the Edmonton Natural Resources Service district office was patrolling southwest of Fort Saskatchewan. At 7:20 a.m. a vehicle was observed parked on the shoulder of the road with its headlights out. The sky was overcast and headlights were required to safely operate a vehicle. Legal hunting time did not begin until 7:35 a.m. that day, in that area. As the officer approached the vehicle, two figures were observed standing at the rear of the car, a third was noted sitting in the back seat of the car.
After exiting his vehicle and approaching the persons next to the car, the officer observed a female mule deer lying on the shoulder of the road behind the car. The deer had recently been shot, and in fact, was still alive. Heavy frost that morning helped to highlight drag marks in the field from where the deer had gone down.
The officer questioned the subjects and learned that both men at the rear of the car were Treaty Indians and that they were responsible for dragging the deer out of the field. The shooter, Chester Thibeault, 31, of Drift Pile, asked the officer if there was a problem, stating that he was a treaty Indian. He then asked the officer whether not they were on Crown land.
The area where the deer was killed is located just over three kilometres from the Edmonton city limits and about 2.5 kilometres from Fort Saskatchewan. Both cities were clearly in view. The land on which the deer was shot is privately owned and currently occupied with three residences that were within sight. It was noted that the deer had to have been shot no less than 25 minutes prior to legal shooting hours.
The officer placed the deer and one firearm under seizure. He then conducted checks on both suspects, learning that both men were wanted on unrelated criminal warrants. The third person who was in the vehicle was the juvenile son of one of the suspects. The men were subsequently arrested and transported to Fort Saskatchewan for questioning.
Upon obtaining written statements from both men, Thibeault was charged with four counts under the Wildlife Act: hunting without a licence, discharging a firearm at night, hunting at night and hunting during a closed season. Although Thibeault was a Treaty Indian, the rights afforded to him were negated the moment he entered onto privately owned land to hunt without consent of the owner or occupant.
On Jan. 10, 1999, Thibeault appeared in Fort Saskatchewan provincial court and pled guilty to hunting without a licence and discharging a firearm at night. He was fined a total of $1,000 and the deer ordered forfeited to the crown.
Trophy ram seized from Drumheller man - Olds district
On Oct. 31, 1998, the Natural Resources Service office in Olds was informed that a hunter who had recently killed a trophy classed bighorn sheep in Wildlife Management Unit 420, took only the head and cape and failed to pack out any of the meat.
The carcass was abandoned. Only the head and cape were taken off the mountain.
A wildlife officer from Olds district acted on the information and attended the residence of John Moar, 39, a Drumheller area resident, and questioned him about the abandoned sheep carcass. Moar, a licensed hunter, admitted killing the ram on Oct. 29, and claimed that he felt he had no choice but to leave the carcass behind. He explained that other people in the area had seen grizzly bears feeding on the gut-pile of another nearby sheep kill. He claimed to believe that if he attempted to recover the meat from his sheep, he would not only endanger his own life, but the life of the bear in the event that he would have to kill it in self-defence.
The officer seized the head and cape of the sheep for evidence and conducted an investigation into the matter. After interviewing witnesses, it was learned that on the day the kill was made, two men and two horses were used to retrieve the head and cape. Although the meat could have been retrieved at that time, it was abandoned instead and no attempt was made to return to the kill site to retrieve what remained. Moar was subsequently charged for abandoning the carcass of a big game animal.
On Jan. 29, Moar's lawyer entered a guilty plea on his behalf and offered Moar's explanation for abandoning the sheep carcass, citing his fear of the bears that were in the area. Moar received a fine of $800 and was suspended from possessing a recreational hunting licence for one year. The head and cape of the sheep was ordered forfeited to the Crown. Before passing sentence, the presiding provincial court judge commented that in this case, the fact that bears were in the area was only an excuse - not a defence.