Two fined for harassing wildlife near Kitimat

A total of $13,000 in fines has been assessed after incident in which deer was injured

It's illegal to hunt big game when it's swimming.

Two men charged with injuring a wild animal outside of open hunting season have been fined $13,000.

Andreas Ignaz Handl of Kitimat was ordered to pay a total of $7,000 to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, a $1,000 fine, $150 victim fine surcharge and not to approach big game except as required by employment or in the course of employment for two years after pleading guilty to one charge harassing wildlife with a motor vehicle or device and one charge of hunting big game that was swimming contrary to two sections of the Wildlife Act of B.C.

Rodolfo Augusto Martins Lopes, from Portugal who was in Kitimat working at the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter modernization project, was ordered to pay $5,000 to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and to not approach big game for two years after pleading guilty to harassing wildlife.

On May 14, 2015, Handl, an ocean angling guide, took a group on a chartered fishing trip for a bachelor party on the Douglas Channel near Kitimat.

The boat came upon a mule deer swimming from island to island and corralled the deer at which time Lopes used a gaff hook – a large fishing hook on a stick used for halibut fishing – to stab the deer in the neck in an attempt to capture it and haul it onto the boat, said conservation officer Ryan Gordon Dec. 2.

The gaff broke and the deer swam to shore with the gaff stuck in its neck and reportedly ran off into the forest, he said.

A video of the incident was posted on Facebook and before it was taken down, several calls had been made to the BC Conservation Office here.

After they were notified, conservation officers didn’t go to the scene so they don’t know if the deer survived, Gordon added.

Conservation officers made a couple of arrests and obtained a search warrant upon which they found the video, said Gordon.

Charges of hunting outside of the open season and wilfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal against Handl were stayed by the court.

Charges of hunting outside of the open season, wilfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal and hunting big game while it is swimming against Lopes were stayed by the court.