Poacher avoids jail but faces $20,000 fine, 20 year hunting ban

A Yukon poacher won’t see the inside of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre but will have to abide by strict conditions for the next six months and pay a $20,000 fine.

A Yukon poacher won’t see the inside of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre but will have to abide by strict conditions for the next six months and pay a $20,000 fine.

Judge Michael Cozens sentenced Jonathan Ensor Jan. 20 to a six-month conditional sentence, a 20-year hunting ban and a $20,000 contribution to the Turn In Poachers and Polluters fund.

The sentence will be served in the community: Ensor will have to stay home except to go to work and won’t be allowed to consume alcohol or go to bars.

Ensor, 34, was convicted of 16 violations of the Yukon Wildlife Act and two violations of interprovincial wildlife rules on Jan. 4.

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.

Crown prosecutor Megan Seiling was seeking a six-month jail term and a $30,000 TIPP contribution. Ensor offered to pay $45,000 to the TIPP fund on top of a lifelong hunting ban in order to avoid jail time.

Cozens ruled $45,000 was excessive. But a fine alone was insufficient given the scope of the violations Ensor committed, he said.

As an experienced hunter, Ensor knew the law, Cozens said, but completely disregarded it and took steps to avoid being caught.

Cozens talked about “the temptation to cheat” in the Yukon when it came to hunting because of the territory’s size and the limited number of conservation officers — 13 — who are available to enforce the Wildlife Act.

But Cozens also listed a number of mitigating factors he took into consideration, from the fact Ensor pleaded guilty and cooperated after the search of his home to letters of supports co-workers and friends filed.

Outside the court Ensor had little to say, except to thank the judge.

“Judge Cozens is a good man,” Ensor told reporters, calling the sentence “fair.”

The sentence highlights how one person action can harm Yukon wildlife, said Ryan Hennings, the enforcement manager for Environment Yukon.

During the sentencing hearing a Yukon ungulate biologist testified about the impact of poaching on herd management plans. Those plans determine how many animals can be harvested every year without disrupting the population.

This case is the most significant poaching case he’s seen in his career, Hennings said, and it was uncovered by a tip from the public.

“The Yukon is large. There’s lots of remote areas,” Hennings said. “We rely (on) and value the assistance of the public.”

To contact the Turn In Poachers and Polluters line, call 1-800-661-0525.

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

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