June 19th, 2024

$5K fine for elk kill in Suffield restricted area

By Peggy Revell on June 15, 2018.


prevell@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNprevell

A northern Alberta man was fined $5,000 Thursday for hunting within CFB Suffield’s restricted national wildlife area.

The man was charged after participating in the Department of National Defence’s elk herd reduction program, where 100 people were given permits to hunt in designated areas on the base in 2016 over a three-day period.

In the agreed statement of facts, the Federal Crown said participants were required to attend a 45-minute safety briefing, which included identifying areas off-limits to the public, and being provided colour-coded maps of the area.

Participants were also required to have a hand-held GPS and compass with them at all times, while notices are posted along the edge of the National Wildlife Area.

Vehicles were only allowed on roads. When leaving the base, hunters were required to provide the location of their kill and two teeth from each kill so the health of the elk herd could be monitored.

On Nov. 14, 2016 the accused, Jeremy Fedun, entered the protected segment by five kilometres and killed an elk with two shots. He and the person accompanying him drove off the road into the protected area to load up the elk. Two pieces of hide were left behind.

Upon leaving the base, they provided two elk incisors to officials. The kill area was initially reported in the restricted area, but then a different area was given.

Two wildlife officers later attended the man’s home and seized the meat and the elk head.

DNA samples of this elk matched the two pieces of hide found at the kill site in the restricted area.

Aggravating factors include the considerable risk of damage to the wildlife habitat, said the Crown, and that the man hunted out of bounds despite clear warnings.

Counsel representing the accused told the court it was the habitat that was protected — not elk — and that the man co-operated with wildlife officials during the investigation.

A $5,000 fine is the minimum amount under current law.

Almost 46,000 hectares of land has been designated as a National Wildlife Area at CFB Suffield since 2003, and it has been environmentally protected by the military since the base was established in 1971.

According Environment Canada, the site is “unique and nationally significant” and is “is one of the largest blocks of predominantly uncultivated grassland remaining in Prairie Canada.” It has a range of habitats, including native grasslands, sand hills, sand dunes, coulees, valley slopes and small wetlands. It’s also home to more than 1,100 known species, 20 of which are considered species at risk — including the Burrowing Owl, Ferruginous Hawk, Sprague’s Pipit, Small-flowered Sand-verbena and Ord’s Kangaroo Rat.

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