The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry wants to remind the public that non-resident hunters must use the services of a licenced outfitter while hunting bears in Ontario.
In May 2018, conservation officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, with assistance from the Canada Border Services Agency and Special Agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, investigated a hunting guide service.
The investigation discovered that three men guided paying clients on illegal black bear hunts while operating a guide service around Spanish, Ontario.
As a result, the three men and seven other people who were involved in the hunts were convicted of several charges under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act related to illegally shooting black bears, covering up what they had done by falsifying records and illegally transporting hides to the United States for taxidermy.
Two trials took place, each heard by a different Justice of the Peace, in Elliot Lake.
The charges were:
- hunting black bear without a licence
- unlawfully transferring a black bear licence
- transporting illegally killed wildlife
- providing bear hunting services without a licence
- hunting black bear within 400 metres of a dump
- abandoning the flesh of a black bear suitable for food
- making a false statement in a document
- exporting wildlife without a permit
- being party to providing black bear hunting services without a licence
- being party to unlawfully attaching a seal to a bear killed by another person
- being party to exporting wildlife without a permit.
Ontario residents Russell Christensen and Keevin Beckerton were convicted. In addition, the following people from Michigan received convictions: Onie Miller III, Onie Miller IV, Adam Collins, BrieAnna Miller, Andrew Geiger, Kevin Henning, Falisha Colby, William Dewitt.
In addition to $60,000 in total fines, two utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) were seized and permanently forfeited to the Crown and some people received lifetime hunting-licence suspensions.
To report a natural resource violation or provide information about an unsolved case, members of the public can call the ministry TIPS line toll free at 1-877-847-7667 or contact your local ministry office. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.