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Hunter is fined $2,000 for killing grizzly bear

A Calgary man who shot and killed a grizzly bear was fined $2,000 Wednesday and banned from hunting for three years.
Judge Jerry LeGrandeur found 56-year-old Carl Brydges guilty in Fort Macleod provincial court of unlawfully hunting wildlife.
Judge LeGrandeur said Brydges simply did not take the time before pulling the trigger to ensure it was a black bear, for which he had a licence.
“There was time,” Judge LeGrandeur said. “We’re not talking about self defence. He got excited and acted in haste without the diligence that is prescribed.”
The ruling came following a trial on Sept. 12 and final arguments Wednesday by Crown prosecutor Lisa Weich and defence lawyer John Dziadyk.
During the trial the court heard Brydges was hunting on horseback with Jim and Edna Burnett of Nanton on Nov. 1, 2011 in Wildlife Management Unit 308 on the Rocking P Ranch.
They were hunting for deer, but Brydges also had a licence for black bear.
All three testified in September that they spotted what appeared from a distance to be a black bear.
After a quick discussion they agreed Brydges could take the bear and he proceeded on foot further down the trail to wait for the animal.
Brydges wounded the bear with his first shot and tracked it a short distance before killing it with a second shot.
It was only when they set about skinning the bear that the three hunters became concerned it might be a grizzly, noticing that its claws were considerably longer than that of a black bear.
The following day Brydges, Jim Burnett and another man took the bear skin with its head and claws intact to the Fish and Wildlife office in Claresholm to inquire about a blue tag in one of the bear’s ears.
Fish and Wildlife officer Ken Powell immediately identified the bear as a grizzly, which is listed as an endangered and protected species.
Fish and Wildlife officer Keith Linderman confirmed the bear is a grizzly, on which there has been an eight-year hunting moratorium.
On Nov. 16, Powell charged Brydges with unlawfully hunting wildlife and illegal possession of wildlife.
Brydges appeared in Fort Macleod provincial court last December and pleaded guilty to killing the grizzly bear. After hearing the facts of the case, Judge Gerald Debow struck the guilty plea and set the matter down for trial.
During his testimony Brydges said there was no doubt in his mind it was a black bear.
During his closing argument, Dziadyk said Brydges was an experienced hunter familiar with wildlife.
“He saw no hump as he would on a grizzly,” Dziadyk said of one of the key differences between black and grizzly bears. “It was a black bear.”
Dziadyk referred to testimony offered by Jim Burnett that he had hunted in the area for years and had seen black bears there, but not grizzlies.
“Here we have three different people who feel they saw a black bear,” Dziadyk said, referring to Brydges and the Burnetts.
Dziadyk also pointed out that Brydges made no attempt to evade or mislead authorities, and took the bear skin to the Fish and Wildlife office.
Weich argued that Brydges made a quick decision, and did not take the time to confirm it was a black bear by studying it with binoculars or the scope on his rifle.
“The reason he didn’t know (it was a grizzly) is he didn’t take the time to look,” Weich said. “He made up his mind it was a black bear.”
Dziadyk reminded court that in September Judge LeGrandeur had the Fish and Wildlife officers bring the frozen bear skin into court.
“That’s the blackest bear I’ve ever seen,” Dziadyk said.
Weich disagreed, noting the bear had white tips on its fur, typical of a grizzly.
Judge LeGrandeur said it was clear to him the decision that it was black bear was made quickly, and no one in the group did the diligence required to confirm.
“No effort was made to pause.”
Judge LeGrandeur said Brydges made the mistake of a snap decision, without taking reasonable steps to confirm the bear was black.
“He decided it was a black bear on the side of a mountain and he didn’t do anything to confirm it.”
The maximum penalty is a $100,000 fine and two years in jail.
The Crown wanted a $3,000 fine to send a message to other hunters.
“If you hunt a grizzly bear it’s going to come at a cost,” Weich said.
Dziadyk argued for a smaller fine, noting Brydges has been remorseful, co-operative and was willing to plead guilty at his first court appearance.
Judge LeGrandeur settled on a $2,000 fine. The three-year hunting ban is mandatory upon conviction.
“This is a special species,” Judge LeGrandeur said of the grizzly bear. “This is a special animal and it is treated as such.”

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