Beyond Our Borders
$55,500 in Fines for Hunting Outfitter, Guides and Clients

A Fort Frances man has been fined $40,000 for a number of charges related to his deer hunting business.

Grant Gustafson pleaded guilty to hunting swimming deer; chasing deer with a motorboat; discharging a firearm from a motorboat; unlawfully hunting wolves; killing moose without a licence; attaching a game seal to a moose that had been killed by another person; using an illegal firearm; and making a false statement to a Ministry of Natural Resources Conservation Officer.

Gustafson is banned from hunting for the next 10 years and from guiding hunters for the next two years. Three motorboats, a trailer, a rifle and assorted hunting equipment were seized and permanently forfeited to the Crown. Two of Gustafson's employees and five of his clients were also fined a combined total of $15,500 and received a combined total of 26 years of hunting suspensions.

Court heard that between 2007 and 2009, the Ministry was assisted by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department in conducting a covert investigation of Gustafson's commercial deer outfitting business on Lake of the
Woods in Kenora district and Rainy Lake in Fort Frances district. His business caters primarily to U.S. clients. Gustafson used dogs to drive deer from islands into open water while he and his employees waited in nearby motorboats. They then used their motorboats to push the swimming deer toward clients waiting with rifles onshore.

Gustafson also took hunters by motorboat to get close to the swimming deer. If the deer were judged to have large enough antlers to be deemed trophy deer, he directed clients to shoot them from the boats. Gustafson also directed his clients to shoot wolves although he knew they were not licensed to do so.

A Pierce County man built a picture-perfect case – against himself and others – to help prosecutors file charges on more than 40 counts involving baiting and killing black bears at his Okanogan County cabin.

Photographs seized from his motion-activated trail camera left little to the imagination of law enforcement officials.

A state wide initiative banned bear baiting in 1996.

Fish and Wildlife police have evidence that the accused had hauled restaurant scraps and salmon to his property in the Methow Valley's Rendezvous area. Bears couldn't resist coming in to the stinking food pile.

Officers had received tips for years indicating he welcomed western Washington residents who used the cabin as a base for big-game violations.

It was common knowledge among people who lived in the area that illegal hunting activity with bears and deer was going on out of that cabin.

After receiving tips from local residents, officers obtained search warrants for the cabin and his home, allowing them to seize more than 1,000 photos and videos from trail cameras and computers. Also seized was a diary of visits to the cabin that helped tie everything together.

The state confiscated the rifle the accused allegedly used for shooting one of the illegally taken black bears as well as the 2007 Chevrolet Suburban used to transport the carcass to a Westside butcher. The vehicle also was used to transport bait, including whole salmon.

Fines include:
    $350 for each count of unlawful bear baiting – $4,900
    $350 for each count of unlawful hunting – $1,150
    $2,000 civil criminal penalty for each count of unlawful hunting – $6,000
    $500 restitution to a neighbour for stealing a trail camera she'd set up to figure out who was cutting the locks off of gates on her land.

Photos incriminate hunter in bear baiting case.

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