Convicted hunting guide faces Yukon charges

An American man who pleaded guilty to wildlife charges in the U.S. is now facing accusations in Yukon court. Ronald Martin, 72, from Haines is charged with more than two dozen new wildlife-related offences.

An American man who pleaded guilty to wildlife charges in the U.S. is now facing accusations in Yukon court.

Ronald Martin, 72, from Haines is charged with more than two dozen new wildlife-related offences.

Environment Yukon confirmed charges had been laid, but would not provide any more details while the charges are before the court.

Most stem from a joint U.S.-Canadian investigation known as Operation Bruin, prosecutors confirmed.

In October, Martin was sentenced in Juneau’s federal court on five charges involving the illegal killing of wildlife, false labelling, and illegal importation of wildlife. 

According to the U.S. states attorney in Alaska, Martin admitted to multiple illegal hunts, falsification of numerous documents related to those illegal hunts and the importation of illegal wildlife from Canada into the U.S.

He was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and was placed on probation for four years.  During that time he cannot hunt in the U.S. and is banned from hunting anywhere in the world for two years. 

Before his appearance in federal court, Martin was also sentenced in Alaska state court on one count of guiding clients for brown bear over bait and one count of guiding clients over an unregistered bear bait site.

For those charges Martin was fined another $40,000, though $30,000 of that was suspended.

He cannot apply for a hunting licence until 2018 and was ordered to surrender his guide licence for life.

Operation Bruin “documented 10 illegal brown bear hunts, three illegal black bear hunts, and four illegal mountain goat hunts totalling a value of approximately $189,000,” the states attorney’s office said in a news release.

“The violations which occurred during the hunts involved Martin allowing his Canadian and U.S. clients to take brown bears over bait, hunting without the required licences or tags, and the failure to have a licensed guide with the non-resident alien clients during guided hunts.  

“The investigation revealed that Martin’s clients and Martin would file false documents to conceal the illegal nature of the guided hunts and would then smuggle the wildlife from the U.S. to Canada, all of which violated the Lacey Act and Canada’s Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.”

The crimes occurred between May 2002 and November 2011, in and around the Haines, Alaska area, the office said.

As of last November, Canadian authorities have laid charges against 17 people connected with the investigation.

On March 22, 2013, Lyle Whitmarsh was convicted in Alberta provincial court of one count of illegally possessing and importing a brown bear into Canada. He was fined $4,000.

On October 16, 2013, Whitmarsh’s brother John was convicted of two counts of illegally possessing and importing into Canada a brown bear.  He was fined $15,000.

Both men were clients of Martin, the American authorities say.

Martin will next appear in Yukon court in January.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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