South Okanagan guide outfitter pleads guilty to Wildlife Act charges

South Okanagan guide outfitter pleads guilty to Wildlife Act charges

Penticton provincial court judge heard conflicting submissions

Conservation officers went undercover to investigate a South Okanagan hunting guide outfitter, who potentially could be fined upwards of $30,000 for Wildlife Act offences.

James Wiens pleaded guilty to baiting an animal, feeding or attempting to feed dangerous wildlife and hunting from a motor vehicle, but Crown and defence could not agree on what information they wanted Judge Michelle Daneliuk to weigh in her decision.

In the joint agreed statement of facts, Crown counsel John Blackman said conservation officers from Washington State and Idaho went undercover contacting Wiens, operator of Vaseux Creek Outfitters, in 2016 about setting up a black bear hunt. The officers told Wiens one of them would be hunting, the other was tagging along to take photos with his friend. Wiens claimed a 100 per cent success rate on his hunts and a contract was signed between the parties at the rate of $4,000 U.S. plus the hunting license fee and about $100 a day for the friend to come along.

Related: Two charged for feeding B.C. bear Tim Hortons timbits

Wiens told the undercover officers that he knew places that the bears come to like “clockwork” everyday. According to Crown counsel, on May 9, 2016, the officers went out on the hunt and noted that an assistant to Wiens said in front of them that he had put out two bags of dog food.

“At 10 a.m., the undercover operators observed Mr. Wiens pouring a semi-thick brownish liquid out of a red gas can onto some old logs,” said Crown.

Over the next hour, the officers were taken to two baiting sites, which they noted smelled like fried chicken, and they observed signs of grease saturation on logs. Photos of Wiens and his assistant baiting the sites were submitted as evidence.

Related: Bear conflicts keep B.C. Conservation Officers busy

Later that morning, Wiens asked the non-hunting friend to pass him the .17 calibre rifle in the truck and he was observed shooting outside the driver’s side window. While the Crown argued that Weins’ target was a large animal, believed to be a horse, the defense said that was not an agreed upon fact.

On the second day of hunting at 7:45 a.m., the trio came across a black bear feeding at one of the baited sites. Wiens instructed the undercover officer to shoot the bear and it was killed at that site. In addition over the course of a few days, operators saw Wiens dumping out dog food, placing bait and pouring out fryer grease at several sites.

Crown counsel was asking for the judge to consider a global fine on the three counts of $25,000 to $35,000, as well as, the forfeiture of the seized .17 calibre rifle, its ammo and a Polaris ATV.

“Mr. Wiens being a guide outfitter was in a position of trust. His activities take place in the backwoods of the province, and the province is vast. It takes a person of character not to be tempted to break the rules. The Crown says it is ironic that in the contract he sent out, that all hunts will be pursuant to the Wildlife Act,” said Crown counsel Blackman.

While Crown argued that fines could be upwards of $100,000 and one year in jail, defence lawyer Kevin Church provided case law of fines as low as $230 and noted that it is not illegal to hunt black bears and they are not an endangered species.

Church insinuated that Wiens felt rushed to ensure the undercover officers had a successful hunt because they told him at some point that one of their grandmother’s had fallen ill and they needed to leave sooner than expected. That is the reason why he had chosen to use the bait. It was a inference that Crown counsel took issue with as there was no submissions into evidence that it induced the illegal acts and he alleged there is information that this was not the first time Wiens used these hunting tactics. Church denied that allegation and said Crown had also not submitted any evidence to prove that.

Church is asking for a fine in the range of $10,000 and forfeiture of the rifle.

Daneliuk ordered the two sides to speak further to resolve what information they are providing to her as evidence for sentencing in their joint submission and they will return in early December to fix a date for sentencing in early 2019.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read