Works Quirks

  SASKATCHEWAN
Carlin Nordstrom's appeal process is denied

     A long-lasting case involving the unlawful import and export of wildlife from Saskatchewan has been dismissed by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. The case involved Carlin Nordstrom, who operated a commercial hunt farm on reserve land on the Poundmaker First Nation, north of Cutknife, Saskatchewan. The investigation involved the cooperation of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, Alberta Fish & Wildlife, and both the Canadian and United States Border Services.

     The investigation started over ten years ago when information was received that Carlin Nordstrom had been unlawfully importing deer and elk into Saskatchewan from Alberta. The animals were to end up on a game farm that he had set up on the Poundmaker First Nation reserve. These animals were brought onto the reserve so that hunters, mainly from the US, couldcome up and hunt them for their trophy status. This posed a problem for the province as the unauthorized import of wildlife into Saskatchewan can create a
significant risk to Saskatchewan's native wildlife and to the domestic livestock industry. During the investigation, the ministry investigated numerous incidents of illegal import and export of wildlife in Saskatchewan. As a result of the investigation, the ministry discovered several instances where deer and elk were being imported and exported without proper
authorization.

     Carlin Nordstrom was charged with six counts under the Saskatchewan Wildlife Act, one count under the Criminal Code of Canada, and 16 counts under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. He was found guilty on all six of the Wildlife Act charges and guilty on seven of the WAPPRIITA legislation. He was also convicted under the Criminal
Code of Canada. He received fines totalling $40,902. Nordstrom appealed thisconviction to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench. During this process, he was successful in having two of his convictions overturned, which resulted in his fines being lowered to $37,552, but maintained his two-year licence suspension andforfeiture of all seized wildlife.


Numberous sets of elk and deer antlers were forfeited to the crown.

     The next step for Carlin Nordstrom was the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, which heard his appeal on October 21, 2014, and provided its decision on November 27, 2014. In this court, Carlin Nordstrom defended himself. In their decision, the Honourable Chief Justice Richards, Honourable Mr. Justice Caldwell, and the Honourable Mr. Justice Whitmore unanimously rejected all grounds for appeal forwarded by Carlin Nordstrom. Carlin Nordstrom's appeal to the higher court was based on these aspects:

  • Nordstrom argued that the definition of wildlife under the Wildlife Act only applied to live animals and not the parts, including antlers and hides. As a result of his belief, he felt he did not need to get export permits as required by the law.
  • Nordstrom felt that he was exempt from export licence requirements ashe had a letter from the Ministry of Environment which stated that he would not need a provincial game farm licence if a number of conditions were met, including the existence of a comprehensive band by-law regulating game farms on-reserve. Nordstrom felt that he had complied with this letter and therefore was exempt from needing an export licence. The Court was skeptical whether such a letter could, by law, actually exempt Nordstrom from any licensing requirements and found that the by-law or Nordstrom's hunting operation complied with the requirements of the letter.
  • Nordstrom argued that the band bylaw should take precedence over the Wildlife Act and its regulations. The Court found that the by-law did not authorize the export of animal parts out of province.

     The Court rejected Nordstrom's appeal in that he did not “export or cause to be exported” animal parts in relation to certain counts because he did not personally take the items across the border. The Court referred to the aid/abet provision of the Criminal Code. They felt that Nordstrom aided the illegal export of wildlife by issuing his clients tags and seals which he knew were invalid, and that they
would be used to export wildlife.

     The Court rejected Nordstrom's puzzling approach that white-tailed deer were not “animals” for purposes of the WAPPRITTA offence of knowingly possessing an animal imported in contravention of the Act.

     The Court rejected Nordstrom's defence of due diligence and upheld the trial judge's findings that, to the contrary, Nordstrom had intentionally taken steps to deceive officials and escape detection.

     Finally, Nordstrom appealed his sentence, which totaled $37,552. He stressed that everything he did could have been done legally if he had obtained the required licences. He also felt that his penalty was not consistent with penalties issued to other people convicted of similar offences. The court disagreed and felt that the offences were serious enough because of the fact that he could have legally done the same things he was convicted of if he would have acquired the proper permits. He did not do this and therefore, this was the reason he was before the courts. In addition, the courts felt that there were many cases with similar offences and similar penalties. Finally, the purpose of a Court of Appeal was to find errors at law and not errors in penalties.




SASKATCHEWAN
Saskatoon man pleads guilty to a variety of wildlife charges

     On November 23, 2013, conservation officers from the Kindersley field area received a complaint that there was a person hunting on posted land. The witness was able to give officers an account of what happened and a description of a truck involved. The witness advised officers that a truck had driven up to a herd of deer on land that was clearly posted. Shots were fired and then the witness observed an individual get out of the truck and cross a fence towards where the deer was lying in a field. The witness was able to provide officers with a good description of the vehicle which had distinctive characteristics about it.

     Officers attended the location shortly afterwards and were not able to locate the suspect vehicle. Officers went to the location where the shots were reportedly fired and found the carcass of a whitetailed deer left in a field. Upon examination of the carcass, officers noticed that the antlers and skull cap were removed from the animal. Nothing else was taken from the white-tailed deer.

     Officers from Kindersley put out a call to other officers in the area to look out for a vehicle matching the description of the one involved in the violation. Because of the distinct look of the vehicles, officers felt that it would be an easy vehicle to locate. The officers learned that the same vehicle had been stopped about an hour earlier in the same vicinity and the driver of the vehicle was charged with unlawful possession of a red fox. During that investigation, those officers involved seized the licence of the accused as well. The reason for the licence seizure was because the suspect was an Alberta resident who had obtained a Saskatchewan Resident Licence inappropriately. Because of this, it was determined that the accused had shot the white-tailed deer without a valid licence.

     During this time, officers identified Donald Scheuerman from Saskatoon as the suspect. Search warrants were drafted and executed shortly afterwards at his residence in Saskatoon. During the search, officers seized antlers that they suspected belonged to the white-tailed deer left in the field and collected DNA from blood stains found. During the search, officers located a number of firearms that were unlawfully stored and a variety of restricted firearms and restricted firearm related offences ensued. Mr. Scheuerman was charged with the following:

  • Section 33(1) Saskatchewan Wildlife Act - Unlawful possession
  • Section 22 Saskatchewan Wildlife Regulations - Waste of game
  • Section 41(1) Saskatchewan Wildlife Act - Hunt on posted land
  • Section 25(1) Saskatchewan Wildlife Act - Unlawful hunting
  • Section 45(1) Saskatchewan Wildlife Regulations - Improper tagging
  • Section 86(2) Criminal Code - Unlawfully storage of firearms
  • Section 86(1) Criminal Code - Careless storage of ammunition
  • Section 95(1) Criminal Code - Unlawful possession of restricted firearms
  • Section 96(1) Criminal Code - Possession of restricted firearms with readily accessed ammunition
  • Section 92(2) Criminal Code - Possession of a prohibited device

The Scheuerman search turned up a variety of firearms and evidence.

     During Mr. Scheuerman's sentencing hearing he accepted responsibility for the offences. Saskatchewan Provincial Court Judge M. Gray stated in her sentencing that she “found it unusual that someone who grew up hunting, fishing, would have such a lack of respect for the environment and wildlife and that's what it amounts to.”She also took into consideration the aggravating factors like the carcass being left and the antlers being removed, compounded by the fact that he had a prior record in Alberta for the same type of activity and had been suspended for it.

     Mr. Scheuerman pleaded guilty to three of the five counts including: unlawful possession, hunting on posted land, and waste of
game. The other two counts were withdrawn. He was given a fine of $5,600 and a five-year recreational hunting suspension. The antlers were forfeited to the crown. In addition to the wildlife offences, Mr. Scheuerman pleaded guilty to five counts of firearms related charges under the Criminal Code of Canada and was given a fine of $6,500. The court ordered a tenyear firearm prohibition for non-restricted firearms and a lifetime prohibition for restricted firearms.

     This investigation was concluded with the assistance of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, RCMP Firearms Section, DNA and Firearms Forensic Services, and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice.





YUKON

Facebook reveals a special guided hunt gone wrong in the Yukon

     On September 16, 2011, the Faro District conservation officer for the Yukon Conservation Officer Services received information from a concerned member of the public. The individual informed the officer that some photos had shown up on Facebook recently and although there was nothing obviously illegal in the photos, the individual felt that something did not seem right. In fact, the individual was so concerned that they allowed the conservation officer access to their Facebook account to view the photos.

     On September 17, 2011, the conservation officer utilized the individual's information and accessed their account. Once in their account, the officer was able to view the photos in question.

     The photos were on the page of Craig Vandenhoek of Whitehorse, Yukon. The officer was able to identify Vandenhoek in several of the photos. Another individual was identified as Andrea Schneider, Vandenhoek's girlfriend, also of Whitehorse. Two other unknown male individuals were in the photos. There were no captions, titles, or names associated with any of the photos.

     The photos showed what appeared to be a hunting trip. The officer recognized a significant amount of the landscape in the photos. It appeared this trip spanned an area almost from the most south-eastern part of the territory at Watson Lake all the way to the most northern portion of roadaccessible territory at the NWT/Yukon border on the historic Dempster Highway.

     The photographs appeared to show that two moose, one black bear, and one grizzly bear had been harvested on this trip. All harvests appeared to have been made by the two unknown male individuals on the trip. The pictures led the investigating officers to believe that this was a special guided hunt and speculated that Vandenhoek and Schneider were the guides.
     Several pictures showed the hunting party backpacking moose antlers out of the mountains. As a mature Alaska/Yukon bull moose can weigh upwards of 800 kg and yield up to 250 - 350 kg of meat, the officer was concerned about potential meat wastage due to the mountainous area from which the pictures showed the moose being carried. As well, several pictures suggested that the harvest of the grizzly bear may have been along the Dempster Highway, most of which is closed to grizzly bear hunting. This encouraged the officer to investigate further.

     On September 19, 2011, the conservation officer accessed the hunting licence database and was able to confirm that Vandenhoek was special guiding Gregory Sereda of Chatham, Ontario, and that Schneider was special guiding Jeffrey Sereda of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Under the Yukon Wildlife Act, if you hold a valid Yukon resident big game hunting licence and are at least 18 years of age, you may apply for a Special Guide Licence to guide a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is not a resident of Yukon.
Bison, goat, sheep, deer, elk, and wolverine cannot be hunted under a Special Guide Licence, however moose, caribou, black bear, wolf, coyote, and in some very limited areas, grizzly bears may be hunted. (At the time of writing, grizzly bears are no longer permitted to be harvested under a Special Guide Licence).

     The officer was now able to put names to faces. In all of the photos of the harvested grizzly bear, the only individual shown was Jeffrey Sereda. The photos were consistent with a hunter's trophy shot style of picture. As Sereda was a nonresident, there were only very limited areas where the harvest of a grizzly bear was permitted. The investigating officer was quite certain that the background in the photos was from a section of the Dempster Highway in northern Yukon. Not only is this area closed to special guided grizzly bear harvest, a large portion of the area is also closed for resident grizzly harvest because due to the open terrain, the over-harvest of grizzly bears is a significant concern.

     Other photos showed Gregory Sereda posing with a dead black bear. Again, this photo appeared to be taken in the vicinity of the Dempster Highway. Although black bear harvest is permitted there, a 500 m no-hunting corridor is in effect. As a significant portion of black bear hunting in the Yukon is done incidentally if a bear is observed close to the road, the officer was
concerned again about harvest location and legalities.

     Several photographs showed Jeffrey Sereda, Gregory Sereda, and Craig Vandenhoek posing with a dead adult bull moose. The officer was able to determine that this moose had been harvested by Gregory Sereda. The officer recognized the area immediately as the Seagull Lakes area in the central Yukon. Having been there on numerous occasions and due to the shape of the chain of lakes in the background, it was very recognizable. As well, several photos indicated the moose had to be packed out of the mountains, which was a significant distance. On average the weight of meat on a bull moose in the Yukon is approximately 250 – 350 kg.



Jeffrey Sereda working on the moose

he harvested at Seagull Lakes.
 
    Under the Yukon Wildlife Act, hunters are required to transport all edible portions of meat out of the field prior to transporting the antlers or horns. The officer was concerned about the possibility of meat wastage.

     Several other photographs of a second dead bull moose in the water showed Jeffrey Sereda posing with the animal. The carcass in many of the photos had not been field dressed with the exception of one front leg and one rear leg from the topmost side.

     The investigating conservation officer copied several of the photos described and, armed with much speculation and suspicion,
began an investigation.

     The officer contacted the other Yukon conservation officers to see who, if anyone, had checked this party in the field. The investigating officer also contacted the officer responsible for covering the Dempster Highway, Conservation Officer Shawn Hughes, and discussed the concerns regarding the grizzly bear harvest. Officer Hughes had some connections along the highway and agreed that he would check to see what he could find out.

     Later that day, information came in that someone on the Dempster Highway definitely remembered seeing this hunting party. As well, a grizzly bear that the person had nicknamed “Scruffy,” which usually hung out around a specific area known as Wiley Airstrip, had not been seen since around the time the hunting party had been there.

     The investigating officer was contacted by Teslin District Conservation Officer John Klein. Officer Klein reported that he had checked this hunting party on September 4, 2011, en route to the Seagull Lakes area. The officer contacted the department's harvest data technician to request the licensing information of the two Seredas, Vandenhoek, and Schneider. Through this search, the investigating officer found that Jeffrey Sereda reported harvesting a moose and a black bear in the Seagull Lakes area. Gregory Sereda reported a
moose from the Seagull Lakes area and a black bear from the Dempster Highway. As well, Andrea Schneider reported harvesting a grizzly bear from an open area adjacent to the closed area along the Dempster Highway. Interestingly enough, there was not a single picture on Craig Vandenhoek's Facebook page showing Andrea Schneider and a grizzly bear.

     The investigating officer, along with Ross River Conservation Officer Debra Morris, flew by helicopter to the Seagull Lakes area to try to locate the kill locations of the two moose harvested by Greg and Jeffrey Sereda. Immediately, they located a moose kill location at the north end of Seagull Lakes and landed to inspect the kill site.

     At the moose kill site they found that the hide was still attached to a portion of the spine as well as to both a front leg and a hind leg. This showed that the animal had not been quartered or cut into pieces, which is the standard way of field dressing a moose. All skeletal structure of this remaining portion was still intact with the spine, pelvis, and rear leg bones attached. More searching of the area turned up the intact bones of the opposite side front leg and hind leg approximately 40 m from the rest of the carcass, as well as
the intact rib cage located approximately 15 m from the rest of the carcass.

     The physical features of the kill site, including terrain, topography, vegetation, rocks, and landscape, as well as the location of the carcass, matched the photographs from the Facebook page showing the moose that appeared to be harvested by Jeffrey Sereda.

     Using the photographs from Craig Vandenhoek's Facebook page, the officers located the camp location of the hunting party on the west side of the lakes near this kill location. The camp was located approximately 200 m from the kill site.

     Searching by helicopter, the officers located what appeared to be the kill location of the second moose. A large grizzly bear had buried the carcass and was lying on top of it. After trying to haze the bear off the carcass several times it became evident that the grizzly bear was not willing to leave. For safety reasons, the officers were unable to land at the site; however, they were able to photograph the
site for reference with the Facebook photos.

     Officer Hughes forwarded the investigating officer six photographs he had taken from the Dempster Highway. The landmarks, vegetation, and topography of the photographs appear to be taken in the same location as the grizzly bear allegedly harvested by Andrea Schneider, although her reported harvest location was different.

     The investigating officer and Conservation Officer Morris returned, by helicopter, to the kill location in the high sub-alpine valley above Seagull Lakes. The grizzly bear was not observed from the air. This time the officers were able to land and recovered a small sample of the remaining carcass for DNA analysis.

     The investigating officer conducted a records search at the Department of Environment and was able to locate the record that is mandatory for butchers to complete when they receive meat from individuals. This record showed the butcher shop to which the hunting party took their meat. In an effort to show that all the meat had not been retrieved, it was important to determine how much
had been taken for processing.

     The investigating officer conducted an inspection at the butcher shop in Whitehorse where the hunting party had taken their meat for processing and located a copy of an invoice for Craig Vandenhoek and Jeff Sereda. The invoice indicated that two boneless moose were delivered to the butcher shop. The total weight delivered on September 9, 2011 was 540 pounds (245 kg).

     At this point, it was very likely that many other agencies were going to be required to successfully finish this investigation. The investigating officer contacted Saskatchewan Conservation Officer Garth Haugen. Officer Haugen began pulling information together from the Saskatchewan area to try to locate the bear hides. Haugen also monitored a public chat room and was able to locate Jeffrey Sereda on this site.

     Officer Haugen arranged for simultaneous inspections of all known tanneries in Saskatchewan in an effort to locate the bear hides. As Officer Haugen tightened the rope from the Saskatchewan end, the investigating officer contacted the conservation officers from Chatham, Ontario, and arranged for them to bring in Gregory Sereda for questioning.

     Several months had passed as the investigating officers compiled all the evidence, photos, and paper trail, and it was now time to finish the investigation. The officer contacted Officer Haugen and the Ontario Conservation Officer Services to finalize plans. Officer Haugen would make contact with Jeffrey Sereda at the same time that the Ontario conservation officers were making contact with Gregory Sereda. Simultaneously, Saskatchewan conservation officers would be conducting inspections of all known tanneries in Saskatchewan, and Yukon conservation officers would execute a search warrant at the Whitehorse residence of Schneider and
Vandenhoek.

     The officer obtained a search warrant and searched the residences of Vandenhoek and Schneider on April 28, 2012. While the search was being conducted, Officer Haugen called to report that Jeffrey Sereda had moved, literally overnight. Officer Haugen had been able to locate where Sereda now was and arranged a meeting with him right away.

     Conservation officers conducting the search of the Vandenhoek and Schneider residences seized all the associated evidence
contained on the warrant. Unfortunately, the grizzly bear was not located.

     Ontario conservation officers were unable to locate Gregory Sereda at this time. He did provide a voluntary statement at a later date outlining their hunt.

     Schneider agreed to provide a statement to the conservation officers. Schneider walked the officers through the hunt. She admitted that she had not harvested the grizzly bear, but that Jeffrey Sereda had. She also admitted that the grizzly bear was shot close to the Dempster Highway in a closed area, and that the black bear was actually shot on the road. She further reported that most of Jeffrey Sereda's moose was left as they thought it had parasites in the meat, making it inedible.

     Officer Haugen from Saskatoon called to report that the inspections completed had turned up two black bear hides at a tannery in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. No grizzly bear hide was found. Officer Haugen finally caught up with Jeffrey Sereda. After trying to cover up their illegal hunting activities in his statement, Sereda eventually admitted to shooting the grizzly bear near the highway and claiming it as Schneider's harvest to try to legitimize it. He also admitted to illegally smuggling the hide and skull out of the Yukon. Both the hide and skull were being stored in his work freezer at another location in Saskatoon, and were subsequently seized by Saskatoon conservation officers.

     Following this very lengthy multijurisdictional investigation, several charges were laid against the members of the hunting party under the Yukon Wildlife Act. On May 6, 2013, all four accused were represented at a sentencing hearing in Territorial Court in Whitehorse, Yukon.

     Andrea Schneider pleaded guilty to wasting meat, providing false information on mandatory reports provided to conservation officers, failing to report a violation committed by a person being special guided, and allowing a seal to be used by another person. Andrea Schneider was fined $8,000 for her role. She is also prohibited from obtaining a Yukon hunting licence for ten years and a Special Guide licence for 15 years.

     Craig Vandenhoek was convicted of failing to prevent a violation by his special guided hunter and making a false statement in a mandatory report provided to conservation officers. He was fined $6,000 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge fee of $900 for his role. Mr. Vandenhoek is also prohibited from obtaining a Yukon hunting licence for ten years and a Special Guide licence for 15 years. Gregory Sereda was convicted of hunting a black bear without being accompanied by his special guide, hunting black bear in a closed area, exporting the illegally killed black bear, and making a false statement in a mandatory report provided to conservation officers. He was fined $7,500, ordered to pay$1,125 in victim surcharge fees, and prohibited from obtaining a Yukon hunting licence for ten years.

     Jeffrey Sereda was convicted of wasting moose meat, making a false statement in a mandatory report provided to conservation
officers, hunting grizzly bears when not permitted, hunting moose when not accompanied by a special guide, and failing to pay harvest fees. He was fined $10,000, ordered to pay $1,500 in victim surcharge fees, and prohibited from obtaining a Yukon hunting licence for ten years. The grizzly bear hide and skull, the black bear hide, and the antlers from Jeffrey Sereda's moose were all ordered forfeited.


Remains of Jeffrey Sereda's moose,
found by conservation officers at
Seagull Lakes, Yukon.
     Prior to the May 2013 court appearance, in October 2012, Jeffrey Sereda also had a court appearance in Saskatchewan Provincial
Court in Saskatoon with respect to charges filed by Saskatchewan conservation officers. He was fined $4,900 in Saskatchewan Court and given a one-year hunting suspension for illegally importing a grizzly bear and black bear.






MANITOBA
Failure to tag migratory game birds results in fines and suspensions

      A Manitoba hunting guide has been fined $21,500 after admitting to a string of violations which were caught during an undercover sting operation involving both Canadian and American officials.

     Craig Littlepage, 38, pleaded guilty to six different charges (11 counts comprising these six different charges) which date back to 2010. They involve infractions documented by two United States fish and wildlife investigators who posed as tourists as part of a group that Littlepage led to hunt migratory birds near Arborg.

     Littlepage was operating without a licence, because although he had a valid outfitter's licence, he did not have an accommodations facility licence to house hunters at his lodge nor did he have a valid guide's licence. Additionally, he failed to properly document and tag more than 100 ducks and geese killed by his group and even secretly took some of the kill to a nearby farmer who ran what he dubbed
"The Butcher Shop" on the side to process the meat. He also admitted to violating regulations by shooting a gun towards ducks from his vehicle in order to scare the ducks into the sky so other members of the hunting party could take advantage. In a separate incident, Littlepage allowed two other hunters to pursue black bear despite not having the proper authority or documentation to do so.

     The Crown said it took a lengthy, complex investigation, requiring plenty of teamwork from authorities on both sides of the border to expose Littlepage. A threeweek trial was set, but lawyers struck a deal to resolve the matter. As a result, 30 out of a total of 36 charges against him were stayed, and all 13 charges against his wife were stayed. Littlepage was given one month to pay his fines and is subject to a hunting ban from provincial officials.

     Douglas Ager of Arborg went to trial on five counts relating to the possession and transport of migratory game birds without proper tagging. He was found guilty on all five counts and was fined $3,750. In addition, two illegal guides from Nebraska were charged with
guiding and firearm infractions.

     Jeff Bittinger was charged with ten counts under the Wildlife Act and Migratory Birds Convention Act, pleaded out to five counts, and was fined $7,000.

     Cory Lynch was charged with nine counts under the same legislation, pleaded out to four counts, and was fined $4,000. A client, Sandford Roy, from Louisiana, was charged and pled guilty to a firearms offence. All men were given a one-year
recreational hunting suspension.
 


The birds were harvested by the clients, transported without tags to a plucker, returned
by the plucker without tags and given back to the clients without tags.






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