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Dead deer, loaded guns, booze: Warrant for 4th man in B.C. poaching case

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An advocacy group for hunters is calling for increased funding to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, as authorities pledge to find a fourth man wanted in connection with a “disgusting” poaching case.

Officials say four men were found with dead deer and marmots in violation of B.C.’s Wildlife Act in 2020, with three of them sentenced by a Kamloops judge this week as the fourth remains wanted on an outstanding warrant. 

“Some day they’re going to have to own up because they’re going to either be stopped by a police officer or conservation officer,” said Sgt. Jesse Jones of the BCCOS, who did not name the outstanding suspect.

He confirmed the 10-year ban each of the other three men were handed is unprecedented, and revealed further details of the case: a conservation officer who questioned the group in May of 2020 found not only dead deer shot out of season and small game like marmots that are never in season, but also loaded guns in their vehicle, alcohol, and garbage left behind.

The BC Wildlife Federation is applauding the BCCOS for the crackdown, and urging the province to provide more funding to the service.

“Lawful hunters are against poaching and this is absolutely disgusting,” said Steve Hamilton, coordinator of conservation, firearms and policy for the BCWF. “Wildlife (services) have been underfunded in British Columbia for almost 50 years and as a part of that, enforcement suffers.”

The province has a publicly-available database of fines and enforcement measures for various ministries, and a CTV News analysis of Wildlife Act violations found at least $3 million in fines levelled in the past decade. The analysis also found hunting bans have increased in the last several years, and that community service and jail time were paired with fines in the thousands of dollars for the worst infractions.

The Wildlife Federation is ramping up free public eduation videos and urging those interested in hunting to do their research and consider signing up for their “hunt academy” to learn how to be safe and responsible hunters – particularly now that interest is growing.

“It’s skyrocketing, ever since COVID,” said Hamilton. “People have been really concerned about not only the price of groceries, but knowing where their food comes from.”

Jones is encouraging hunters, hikers and anyone who observes suspicious activity to report it to the provincial RAPP line at 1-800-952-RAPP (7277) to help them further clamp down on rule-breakers.

“We have a group hard-working, determined officers that are out there,” he said. “Just because you’re remote or not on the pavement, doesn’t mean you’re not going to run into us.”

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