A Whitehorse man has been fined $8,625 under the Wildlife Act for leaving a moose behind near Faro after shooting it.
Edward Bernier pleaded guilty and was penalized for three counts: failing to make a reasonable effort to retrieve the moose, wasting moose meat and not affixing his seal on a big game animal. According to court documents, the incident occurred around Sept. 22, 2012 near the Faro mine. The sentence was decided on May 23.
“I agree with the prosecutor,” said Bernier’s lawyer, Nicholas Weigelt, in an interview. He said Bernier searched for the moose for three hours, even though witnesses said he only looked for 20 minutes.
“He should’ve gone back the next day. And on that basis we’re pleading guilty. We’re not pleading guilty on some form of assumption that they only looked for 20 minutes.”
Court evidence included a profile of Bernier as one of the guides for Deuling Stone Outfitters, a Whitehorse company that provides hunting packages from the Pelly River to the Northwest Territories border. Weigelt said he couldn’t “say definitively” whether Bernier worked as a guide for the company.
Representatives for the company declined to comment. Bernier didn’t return calls from the News before deadline.
Weigelt said that Bernier has “taken dozens of moose and he’s a very ethical guy,” with 37 years of hunting experience. Over the course of those years, he’s only had “one dated ticket.”
“He’s not just out there to go harvest a set of antlers,” Weigelt added. Bernier hunts for meat, he said.
Bernier’s pursuit of the moose was hampered by his quad breaking down, said Weigelt. The time of day also didn’t help. “It was getting dark. My understanding is that the shooting occurred roughly between 2 to 3 in the afternoon and by 6 they have to consider getting out of there.”
“At the end of the day, it’s a constellation of unfortunate circumstances and facts,” Weigelt said.
He said that the full-grown moose is considered a “beautiful trophy,” with its antler spread measuring 65.6 inches, producing between 650-750 pounds of edible moose meat.
The top record for Yukon and Alaska was 65 and 1/8 inches, according to the Boone and Crockett Club, a hunter-conservationist organization.
Bernier’s rifle, scope and gun were forfeited. He is also prohibited from having a hunting licence for four years and must pay the penalty fully before obtaining a new one. The total penalty includes a $1,125 victim surcharge fee.
Hunters can receive a maximum penalty of $50,000 and a year imprisonment for offences. Those sentences are reserved for the worst cases, said Kris Gustafson, manager of enforcement for Yukon Environment. If a person had multiple offences over a long period of time, the penalty could be greater.
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