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$45,000 in fines levied for illegal hunts

A tip from the public has led to a former Whitehorse resident being levied a $31,500 fine and a 20-year hunting ban.

A tip from the public has led to a former Whitehorse resident being levied a $31,500 fine and a 20-year hunting ban.

Former hunting guide James Richards, 51, pleaded guilty on Monday to charges from four hunting trips in which he illegally guided non-residents.

The charges include the illegal transportation of wildlife, providing false or misleading information, and counts related to accompanying or assisting non-residents in exchange for compensation. The charges fall under the Wildlife Act and the Environment Act.

Richards spread out his infractions over four hunting trips, the first dating back to 2006, in the Pelly Mountains. He followed that up with trips into the Coast Mountains west of Whitehorse in 2009, north central Yukon in 2010 and the Pilot Mountain area in 2011.

Richards, who was licensed, led unlicensed non-residents hunting for Dall and Stone sheep. He also used a special guide’s licence to hunt for caribou, moose and grizzly bear in exchange for compensation.

A second individual from Alberta, who took part in two of the hunts, was fined $15,000 and handed a 15-year Yukon hunting ban. He is also required to forfeit his Dall and Stone sheep trophies.

Richards is prohibited from hunting for 20 years, or until the fines are paid, whichever is longer.

While he once worked for a Yukon outfitter, he wasn’t during the hunts with the non-residents.

Environment Yukon regulations stipulate that only registered Yukon outfitters may provide guided sheep hunting for non-residents. Special guides are also prohibited from acting under their licence for compensation or reward.

Ryan Hennings, manager of enforcement and compliance with Environment Yukon, said tips from the public can lead to investigations that result in “significant” events but that this case - the length of the ban and the size of the fine - are the largest he recalls during his time on staff.

Hennings said the Wildlife Act has increased fines for the commercialization of wildlife and the court has a principle that the offender doesn’t benefit monetarily from their activities.

“That’s why you see the large fine,” he said. “It’s not something we specifically asked for but using this principle and what he’s done over the years. This was the amount settled by the defence and crown that the court accepted.”

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