ONE of the individuals named in the provincial government’s attempt to shame people and businesses into paying overdue court-ordered environmental fines was convicted of illegal trophy hunting here in Terrace nearly a decade ago.
Norbert (Bob) Saulnier was ordered to pay $20,000 in fines – with $19,000 of that going to the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund – after pleading guilty in provincial court to 22 counts including guiding for game without a licence, allowing a licence to be used by another person, and possessing an animal/plant for unlawful transport/export.
His name appears in Closing the Gap, a Dec. 2013 report released by the provincial environment ministry containing the names of individuals and businesses who have long overdue fines.
Saulnier had been accused of illegally guiding three American hunters for big game all over the northwest, and aside from the $20,000 fine, he was also sentenced to six months in jail – the maximum term allowable under the BC Wildlife Act – and handed a 10-year-ban on hunting.
Saulnier, who was 61 at the time, failed to appear at his August 2004 sentencing hearing – he had moved to New Brunswick and told his defence counsel he was taking care of his ill father. His stated reason for not appearing was that he could not afford it.
The provincial environmental crown prosecutor for the case, Ron Beram, told The Terrace Standard afterwards that the sentence deters people thinking of illegally guiding hunters in B.C., according to a news story from Sept. 1, 2004.
“It sends a clear message that [illegal guiding] will not be tolerated and when [it happens], it’s dealt with severely,” he said.
But nearly a decade later, Saulnier’s $20,000 fine still has not been paid, which is why his name is in the ministry of environment report. The statute of limitations on environmental court fees is 10 years.
According to conservation officials, a warrant was issued for his arrest, but Saulnier fled and did not serve his six-month sentence. His whereabouts are unknown
The ministry of environment report, current to Nov. 25, 2013 and released late last year, lists 155 individuals and businesses who owe a combined total of nearly $1.5 million in outstanding fines.
The ministry has stated a goal of collecting 95 per cent of these overdue fines but does acknowledge some may not be collectable.
“Ultimately, there will be circumstances where a fine is simply uncollectable, such as a dissolved company or a deceased individual, and those debts will eventually have to be written off,” said the ministry.
Another man involved in the 2004 poaching case, Kirk Burl Porayko, then of Stewart, is also listed on the Closing the Gap report.
He was originally ordered to pay $8,000 but he successfully applied to have that reduced to $6,000 in 2009. The reduced amount remains unpaid.