Manitoba Natural Resources and Northern Development are reporting that conservation officers, through a variety of enforcement activities, have ticketed and fined numerous individuals for illegal activities during the months of December, 2022 through June, 2023.
Earlier this month, an individual pleaded guilty to illegally harvesting trees on a Crown land plantation north of Marchand. Following a tip from the public in December 2022, Steinbach conservation officers began an investigation at the plantation. This area serves as a valuable testing ground that grows high-quality trees for planting in forestry renewal projects across southern Manitoba. On Dec. 13, 2022, officers observed a suspect bringing trees out of the plantation and determined that a total of 167 trees, the majority between 20 and 30 feet tall, had been cut with only their tops removed. The suspect indicated he was selling the trees at his business in Steinbach and was charged under the Forest Act of Manitoba. Following his guilty plea on June 1, the man received an $8,000 fine. The plantation’s missing and damaged trees are a significant loss that negatively impacts long-term sustainable forest management projects in southern Manitoba.
A Winnipeg man was convicted earlier this month for leaving decayed fish in a net on Lake Winnipeg. The investigation began in February 2022, when conservation officers from the Selkirk district were conducting fishing net checks on Lake Winnipeg. Officers visited a site on two occasions and on the second visit, noted the holes were covered with thick ice and drifted snow, suggesting the nets had not been checked recently. Officers drilled holes and found a large number of decayed fish that were no longer fit for human consumption. A total of 68 fish, including 57 walleye and sauger, had to be discarded. Forty-six walleye and sauger were still alive and were released back into the lake. On June 9, a Winnipeg man was fined $5,000 and ordered by the court to pay $2,814 in restitution to the Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Fund for a total penalty of $7,814.
Last month, two individuals pleaded guilty to night hunting with lights in the Roblin area. On Oct. 27, 2022, conservation officers conducted a patrol to target illegal night hunting northeast of Roblin and observed a spotlight illuminating a field from the window of a vehicle. Officers stopped the vehicle and two male occupants, from Winnipeg and Roblin, were arrested for night hunting. Officers seized a firearm, hunting gear and the vehicle. On May 18, the men pleaded guilty to hunting at night with lights and each received $4,000 fine. The driver of the vehicle also pleaded guilty to driving a motor vehicle while suspended and received an additional fine of $672.
Acting on a tip that a moose had been shot near Cowan and taken to a local abattoir, conservation officers from Swan River charged a man with hunting moose in a conservation closure area. The investigation determined the moose was killed illegally within a Moose Conservation Closure Area and the moose was seized. On May 17, the individual admitted to the court he had shot the moose. He received a $100 fine and must pay $5,000 in restitution. The moose was donated.
In March, an individual from Stonewall and an individual from Warren were convicted for hunting on private land near Roblin last fall. On Nov. 15, 2022, conservation officers responded to a call about a gun shot after dark in a rural area northeast of Roblin and stopped a truck leaving a field on private property. Officers found two freshly killed white-tailed deer in the box of the truck and determined that one had been shot after dark on private property, without the owner’s permission. Officers located the kill site and determined the deer was shot directly in front of a municipal road, an extremely dangerous place to discharge a firearm. Two rifles, a flashlight, and two white-tailed deer were seized. On March 16, one adult was convicted of dangerous hunting as well as hunting on private property and received a four-year big game and game bird licence suspension. The other adult was convicted of hunting on private property and received a one-year big game and game bird licence suspension. Fines totaled $3,200 and restitution totaled $1,500. Both deer were donated to local families.
On March 21, a mineral exploration company was given seven tickets under the Crown Lands Act for using Crown land without authorization. In January, Snow Lake conservation officers began investigating the company for operating diamond drills on Crown land east of Snow Lake without proper authorization. It was determined that a number of work areas were unauthorized. Trees had been cleared and drill operations completed without authorization and officers issued a stop work order. Fines totaled $3,402 and timber dues were assessed at four times the regular rate for the timber damaged during these operations.
On Dec. 1 2022, an individual from Sunnyside pleaded guilty to killing a greater number of wild animals than permitted. On Nov. 19, 2021, Interlake conservation officers conducted a patrol near Mulvihill and observed a white-tailed deer strapped on top of an all-terrain vehicle, which was parked in front of a cabin on Crown land. A game tag was attached to the deer but was not properly notched or labelled. An additional dead white-tailed deer, without a game tag, was found nearby. The individual received a $600 fine as well as $1,500 in restitution along with a two-year hunting suspension. In July 2022, a joint investigation by conservation officers and Crown Lands Branch also resulted in the termination of the cabin permit for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the permit. An order to remove the cabin was issued.
Anyone with information on illegal activity is asked to call a local Natural Resources and Northern Development office or the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-782-0076.