A German couple must pay more than $4,000 in fines and are temporarily banned from getting hunting licences after trying to take a large quantity of meat and fish home from the Yukon in 2017 without an export permit. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

German tourists fined for trying to take fish, grouse from Yukon without permit

The couple pleaded guilty to violating the Wildlife Act and federal fishery regulations July 31

A German couple must pay more than $4,000 fines and are temporarily banned from getting hunting licences after trying to take a large quantity of meat and fish from the Yukon home with them in 2017 without an export permit.

Britta Kristina Blank and Hans-Jochen Warner Steffen Bormann pleaded guilty to three counts of transporting wildlife out of the Yukon without an export permit, a violation of the territorial Wildlife Act, via their lawyer Mike Reynolds in territorial court July 31.

One of the counts was against Blank, while the other two were against Bormann.

The couple also pleaded guilty to three counts each of violating the federal Fishery (General) Regulations for possessing fish that were processed and packaged in such a way that the species, number and size of the fish could not be determined.

According to details read to the court by Crown attorney Lee Kirkpatrick following the guilty pleas, conservation officers saw Blank and Bormann fishing along the North Canol Road on Sept. 12, 2017. When the conservation officers inspected the couple’s cooler, they found several lake trout as well as a number of fish fillets that could not be identified. The officers also found portions of grouse and porcupine, which the couple said they intended to bring back to Germany with them.

The conservation officers charged Blank and Bormann with violating the federal regulations and told them they would need to obtain an export permit in order to legally take their fish and game out of the Yukon.

When the couple didn’t obtain a permit, conservation officers waited for them at the Whitehorse airport on Sept. 25, 2017, and stopped the couple as they were going through security. Conservation officers searched the couple’s cooler and found 57 pairs of spruce grouse breasts, a pair of ruffed grouse breasts, a pair of ptarmigan breasts, 26 skinned fish fillets, 14 lake trout fillets, five whole lake trout, four sets of grouse tail feathers, four porcupine legs, a bag of ground moose meat and 21 grouse feathers. Officers seized the items, and when confronted, Bormann said he’d been taking wildlife back to Germany with him for “20 years” without any problems.

Kirkpatrick said that Blank and Bormann were “extremely cooperative” throughout the process, and Bormann apparently appeared to legitimately believe he did not need an export permit to take the meat and fish with him.

The Crown and defence entered a joint submission for sentencing.

Blank and Bormann must each pay $150 for the violations of the federal regulations. For the territorial act violations, both must complete the Hunter Education and Ethics Development (HEED) course. As well, Blank will be banned from receiving a hunting licence for three years and was ordered to contribute $1,500 towards the Turn in Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) Line, while Bormann received a ban that will last until Oct. 31, 2019, and was ordered to contribute $2,500.

Addressing the court afterwards, Reynolds said his clients “love” travelling to the Yukon and have been doing so for many years. He described them as “two very regretful individuals” and suggested that a language barrier may have led to the incident, explaining that English is their “second, third or perhaps fourth language” and that they “definitely present as understanding more English than they do.”

“These are not careless people,” he said.

Kirkpatrick noted that one of the conservation officers who spoke to the couple speaks German, and had explained the rules to them in German.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

A previous version of this story misspelled Lee Kirkpatrick’s last name. The News regrets the error.

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