June 11, 2007

Probe of illegal hunting yields $85K in fines, forfeited equipment

SASKATOON, SASK-An American hunter, William C Braden III of Houston, Texas, was recently fined $10,000 for violating Canada's Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, by illegally hunting waterfowl in the Cumberland Marsh area of Saskatchewan in 2003. He pleaded guilty to three counts of exceeding daily bag limits for ducks under the Act. This latest conviction is one of several resulting from a two-year investigation dubbed "Operation Overboard," conducted jointly by Environment Canada game officers with Saskatchewan Environment and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The investigation centred on illegal hunting activities conducted at Mistik Lodge near Cumberland House, about 400 km northeast of Saskatoon, in 2002 and 2003. Fines and forfeitures resulting from the probe totalled $85,000, including $27,000 levied against four North Carolina hunters who pleaded guilty in September 2004 to nine charges of violating federal and provincial wildlife conservation legislation. They also forfeited $10,500 worth of equipment and donated $4,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund. The Fund, administered by Environment Canada, provides a way for courts to ensure that financial penalties are directed to address environmental damages. In March 2005, a Cumberland House waterfowl hunting outfitter and three guides pleaded guilty to a total of 51 charges and were fined $30,000 in relation to their activities over a two-year period. These included counselling clients to exceed daily duck hunting limits and not to bother retrieving birds that were shot.

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