Crown seeks jail time in ‘serious’ poaching case

A Yukon territorial court judge will decide whether to send a Yukon poacher to jail for illegally hunting seven different animal species in the territory.

A Yukon territorial court judge will decide whether to send a Yukon poacher to jail for illegally hunting seven different animal species in the territory.

Jonathan Ensor, 34, was convicted Jan. 4 after pleading guilty to 16 violations of the Yukon’s Wildlife Act and two violations of its interprovincial rules.

An anonymous tip led conservation officers to search Ensor’s house on Oct. 2, 2015, according to an agreed statement of facts filed in court.

They found carcasses of bison, deer and elk, plus two deer hides, caribou antlers, two Dall sheep hides, four wasted grouse, six rabbits, one frozen grouse, a set of eagle feathers and a pair of sheep horns.

Ensor didn’t have a licence to hunt any of the animals and no permit to possess the feathers and horns.

On Jan. 10 Crown prosecutor Megan Seiling asked judge Michael Cozens to sentence Ensor to six months in jail. The Crown also sought a $15,000 fine and a 20-year hunting ban.

Ensor sought a conditional sentence, which would allow him to serve his sentence in the community, in exchange for a $45,000 fine and a lifelong hunting ban.

Conservation officer Aaron Koss-Young testified for the Crown that permits for some of the animals Ensor killed are highly sought after.

For some species, such as deer, there are only 10 permits available per year through a lottery system. There are also designated areas where hunting is prohibited — something Ensor knew but wilfully ignored.

Yukon government ungulate biologist Sophie Czetwertynski testified the territory’s herds are naturally self-regulated by predators and natural mortality.

That means the harvest rate — the amount of animals that can be hunted while keeping the herds healthy — is low, between zero and four per cent of the total population.

Unreported kills and poaching will affect the harvest rate scientists calculate, she said, and eliminate hunting opportunities.

Ensor was also convicted of hunting a deer at night, using full metal jacket ammunition to hunt animals, wasting meat, using a vehicle for hunting, and possessing wildlife killed in another jurisdiction.

He admitted to killing a caribou in Paddy Pass, the area between the B.C. and Alaska borders, in the fall of 2014.

After he killed a bison near Haines Junction in September 2015, Ensor decided to butcher the animal himself because he was concerned a butcher would report him to conservation officers.

But mould started developing on the bison, resulting in at least 30 kilograms of meat going in the trash.

That’s on top of the four grouse conservation officers found in a garbage can on Ensor’s property.

In her sentencing submissions, Seiling told the court there were no legal precedents with similar facts to this case because of its scope.

But Yukon courts have handed out small jail sentences for severe violations of the Wildlife Act, she said.

There are only 13 conservation officers patrolling the Yukon, making enforcement difficult.

Seiling emphasized the need to send a message to the public to deter poaching, which derails the work scientists do to manage herds and affects hunters’ rights.

There were “too many offences of too serious of a nature,” she said.

She also opposed the conditional sentence because Ensor was under a court order prohibiting him from using a weapon when he hunted.

Ensor’s only explanation was that he hunted for subsistence.

But when judge Cozens asked him how he thought he could get away with it, Ensor simply said he “wasn’t thinking.”

Ensor works in construction. He told the court that a jail sentence would make his employer “suffer” because projects couldn’t continue without him.

He also said a jail sentence would halt his plans to expand his residence into a homestead where he plans to grow vegetables, and raise chickens, and would impact his family.

Because Ensor chose to represent himself, Cozens cautioned him about his request to replace six months of jail time with an extra $30,000 in fines, which would place Ensor under financial burden for a longer time.

A six month jail sentence would likely mean Ensor would be out of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre after four months served.

Cozens will give his sentencing decision Jan. 20.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

Whitehorse City Hall at its Steele Street entrance. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Change of plans approved for city hall

Project would see 1966 city hall demolished

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Most Read