Lower Mainland man fined $7,500, banned from hunting for two years for shooting black bear

Poacher fined $7,500

A Lower Mainland man was handed a $7,500 fine and a two-year hunting ban after shooting a black bear on cultivated land near Pemberton without permission in 2020.

A witness reported it to the Conservation Officer Service, which conducted a full investigation.

Normally, such an incident would result in a $230 fine, but due to the accused having a history of breaking rules, the COS filed a report to Crown counsel.

Nearly a year and a half later, the shooter was handed a $7,500 fine and a two-year hunting ban – the biggest penalty for this kind of offence that conservation officer Sgt. Simon Gravel has seen.

“In this case, the accused had some previous history. He was charged under the Wildlife Act before, and also the circumstance, the location and public safety consideration, and all those factors kind of helped the officers to decide which way to go,” said Gravel about why such a harsh punishment was handed out. “And in this case, we believe it is a pretty significant penalty and we hope that it sends a strong message to the hunting community that it’s, first of all, dangerous and it’s illegal to hunt over cultivated land without permission.”

In total, the guilty party was charged under the Wildlife Act with hunting on uncultivated land without permission as well as possessing wildlife harvested unlawfully. Each count came with a $1,000 penalty and a $2,750 penalty, which is paid to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

While the severity of the fine is unprecedented, this incident isn’t a new issue in the Pemberton Valley, according to Gravel.

“I think people are eager to hunt and obviously in Pemberton there [are] a lot of big fields where wildlife is often seen so they become an easy target in those big open fields, compared to the regular hunting terrain that is way more forested and difficult,” he said. “So I feel people are way more opportunistic and willing to break the law to harvest an animal and by doing so they compromise the safety of others and that’s why we take it seriously and why we are pretty happy with the penalty in this case.”

If the guilty party is caught hunting within the two-year ban that started at the time of sentencing on Sept. 10, he can be charged again under the Wildlife Act. The penalty for such an offence comes with a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or up to one year of prison for a first offence, and a maximum fine of $200,000 and/or two years in prison for each subsequent offence.

Due to the highly regulated nature of hunting in B.C. and the variance in regulations from area to area, Gravel suggests all Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education certified hunters read the regulation synopsis that is available online to make sure they are fully aware of all the rules applying to their area.

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