Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement recently concluded a major investigation that has resulted in $63,590 in total fines and 31 years of combined recreational hunting licence suspensions against 13 individuals.
The investigation started in early 2017 when Stettler fish and wildlife officers determined that numerous people were hunting with an Indigenous person, who has a constitutionally protected right to hunt, in an effort to disguise their illegal activities. In a number of cases, the wildlife that were harvested were either out of season or were hunted without the proper licences. This included elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, and antelope.
Officers also determined that the meat of some of the illegally harvested trophy animals were trafficked. In one case, an American from Kansas was also unlawfully guided on a moose and antelope hunt.
In 2019, 13 individuals were found guilty of numerous Wildlife Act offences:
Donald CHORNOHUS was found guilty of unlawful possession of wildlife, and was given a $4,500 fine.
Tyler Dean ERICKSON was found guilty of two counts of hunting without a licence (elk). ERICKSON was fined $5,000 and had to forfeit a trophy antelope shoulder mount.
Larry LEE was found guilty of hunting wildlife during a closed season (antlered moose and trophy antelope) and hunting big game as a non-resident alien without an outfitter-guide. LEE was given a $6,000 fine and a 4 year recreational hunting licence suspension.
Natalie Lynn LEKSIW was found guilty of three counts of unlawful possession of wildlife (elk, moose and mule deer), three counts of hunting closed season (elk and antelope) and one count of hunting without a licence (mule deer). LEKSIW was fined $5,000 and 5 year Judicial Order prohibiting hunting or accompanying anyone hunting.
Shannon Orest LEKSIW was found guilty of four counts unlawful possession of wildlife (moose, elk, mule deer and antelope), three counts of hunting closed season (elk and antelope), and two counts of hunting without a licence (mule deer). LEKSIW was fined $15,000 and given a 5 year Judicial Order prohibiting hunting or accompanying anyone hunting.
Carmine MAGLIONE was found guilty of two counts of unlawful trafficking of wildlife (moose and elk), guiding for reward without a licence, and providing guiding services to a non-resident alien without an Outfitter-guide permit. MAGLIONE was given an $11,000 fine, a 15 year Judicial Order in which he is required to report all hunting activity including any wildlife he comes into possession of and 6 year automatic recreational hunting licence suspension.
Donald MATTILA was found guilty of unlawful possession of wildlife and was given a $600 fine.
Trent MORRISON was found guilty of trafficking in wildlife and was given a $2,500 fine and 3 year recreational hunting licence suspension.
Greg MORROW was found guilty of hunting without a licence (antlered mule deer), and was given a $2,000 fine and 1 year recreational hunting licence suspension.
Kimberly RESZEL was found guilty of allowing another to use their licence (general white-tailed deer) and was fined $115 and given a 1 year recreational hunting licence suspension.
Lance Darryl RESZEL was found guilty of hunting without a licence (antlered moose), using another licence (general white-tailed dear) and failing to immediately affix a tag (white-tailed deer). RESZEL was given a $7,500 fine and a 3 year recreational hunting licence suspension.
Trevor THOMAS was found guilty of trafficking in wildlife. THOMAS was given a $2,500 and 3 year recreational hunting licence suspension.
Lengthy and complex investigations such as this often requires collaboration between fish and wildlife officers and multiple other agencies. This investigation involved many Fish and Wildlife officers, Crown prosecutors, members of the RCMP, officers from Kansas Fish and Wildlife and the Saskatchewan Conservation Officer Service, as well as numerous other witnesses. We would like to take this opportunity to everyone who contributed to the successful conclusion of this file.
It is our hope that these significant fines serve as a strong deterrent to any would-be poachers. Anyone with information about any wildlife or fishery violation is encouraged to call the 24-hour Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800, or online at the following link: https://www.alberta.ca/report-poacher.aspx. Callers can remain anonymous and could qualify for a reward.