A 17-year-old youth who shot a grizzly bear, orphaning two cubs, was fined $600 Friday and lost his hunting privileges for three years.
The youth pleaded guilty in Fort Macleod youth court to a charge of hunting wildlife in a closed season.
“This is a clear-cut case of poaching,” Crown prosecutor Brad Stephenson said.
Court was told a man called the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Report a Poacher line Oct. 30 to report that he had killed a grizzly bear west of Nanton.
“There is no hunting season for grizzly bears in Alberta,” Stephenson said, adding the animal is considered an endangered species.
Stephenson told court the youth accompanied his uncle Oct. 29 to a ranch west of Nanton, where they got permission from the land owner to hunt deer and elk, for which they had licences.
The land owner cautioned the two hunters there was a grizzly bear sow with two cubs in the area.
Stephenson said the youth and his uncle had just driven into a field when they spotted the female grizzly about 100 yards away.
Both men got out of the truck and shot at the grizzly. The youth fired one round and his uncle fired two rounds.
The grizzly bear was hurt, and went down. At that point the youth and his uncle noticed two grizzly cubs.
The youth and his uncle left, but the older man eventually returned.
The female grizzly was still alive and had managed to drag itself some distance from where it had fallen.
After determining the grizzly bear was still alive the man used a shotgun to kill it.
Stephenson said a neighbouring land owner, on whose property the bear had been shot, witnessed the incident.
When fish and Wildlife officers arrived they found the female grizzly bear’s carcass with the two cubs nearby.
The Fish and Wildlife officers took the cubs to a location where they were prepared for hibernation.
“Unfortunately one of the cubs has passed away,” Stephenson said.
Fish and Wildlife is now trying to find a sanctuary for the remaining cub.
Stephenson told Judge Sylvia Oishi the maximum fine for hunting wildlife in a closed season is $5,000.
The provincial average for the offence, which includes other types of animals, is $1,500.
Stephenson told Judge Oishi he was recommending a $1,000 fine, to recognize the accused is a youth and accepted responsibility by pleading guilty, and a four-year suspension of hunting privileges.
“If should be a fine that is significant,” Stephenson said. “Were he an adult I would probably be asking for a fine close to the $5,000 maximum.”
Defence lawyer John Dziadyk argued for a fine of $400 to $500, noting the youth is in Grade 12 and works part-time, but supported the four-year hunting prohibition.
“I would just like to apologize for my actions,” the youth told Judge Oishi. “I realize it was a bad offence. It was a mistake I won’t make again.”
Judge Oishi settled on a $600 fine and three-year hunting prohibition.
“This is a very tragic case of a killing of an endangered animal,” Judge Oishi said. “It would appear it also resulted in the death of a cub.”
Judge Oishi noted the youth was following the lead of an adult, had taken responsibility and apologized for his actions, and was a young person.
The 30.06 Remington rifle the youth used was seized by Fish and Wildlife officers, but will be returned to the youth’s father, who owns the weapon.