Three Richmond men who were arrested this summer for illegally hunting near Pemberton pleaded guilty last month in North Vancouver Provincial Court to a total of five counts.
Bing Tom Xie, Zhi Wei Jie, and Dong Pang were arrested at 2 a.m. on June 14 in Whistler when Sea to Sky regional police services found two dead doe in the back of their minivan. The men were first scheduled to appear in court in August.
On Nov. 2, Xie pleaded guilty to one count of hunting during closed season and one count of hunting during prohibited hours. He was fined $7,000, half of which will go to the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund.
Xie was also put on a two-year prohibition from hunting in B.C., possessing wildlife, and possessing firearms and other hunting weapons.
Jie and Pang both pleaded guilty to one count each of unlawful possession of wildlife. They were each fined $1,000, half of which will also go to the fund, and placed on a similar six-month prohibition as Xie.
They also forfeited their firearms and hunting equipment, valued at $4,000, to the Crown. In total, the fines plus the hunting equipment amount to about $15,000.
“It is a fairly significant amount,” said Conservation Officer Dave Jevons. “When you add the 15 per cent victim fine surcharges, the one guy is looking at $8,050 in fines plus a forfeit of all his equipment.”
The maximum penalty for first time offenders under the Wildlife Act is $50,000, six-months in prison, or both.
The men were arrested when RCMP officers pulled over their van during a road check for impaired drivers on Highway 99 near Whistler. Officers noticed that one of the men in the car had a rifle next to him. The officer seized the rifle and found another loaded rifle underneath the man’s jacket.
The three men were arrested and their vehicle was searched. Upon inspection, officers found two dead female deer in the back of the van, along with a shotgun, high-powered spotlights, and other hunting equipment. One of the deer was pregnant with twin fawns, and the other had recently given birth.
“We recovered a bullet from the pregnant doe. It was actually lodged in the fetal sack. And then the Vancouver Police Department Fire Arms and Forensics Unit matched that bullet to one of the rifles that was seized,” said Jevons.
The conservation officer said the hunting took place in Pemberton, most likely at night. He described Xie as the ringleader of the group, since he was the one who had the hunting license and owned the two rifles.
“These men not representative of the typical hunting community. Any hunter would be appalled at this kind of behaviour,” said Jevons.
“Both the fact that they are hunting at night and the fact they are shooting pregnant does, especially given that they are doing so in June,” he said.
Deer season runs from mid-September to the end of November. All hunters are required to have a hunting license. Female deer can never be legally hunted.
The three men originally faced five counts each, or 15 counts total, under the Criminal Code and the Wildlife Act.
“One of the things we had as part of our case was we had an impact statement from a Ministry of Environment biologist,” said Jevons.
“Obviously the one doe was shot, so the two fawns died. And the other doe had given birth to likely one but possibly two fawns. And those two fawns would be orphaned, and it is highly unlikely that they would survive.”
He said it was likely the men ended up killing four to six deer.
On behalf of the Conservation Officer Service Jevons thanked the Whistler RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department Forensics and Firearms Unit for their assistance in this case.
He said illegal hunting and fishing activities threatens provincial fish and wildlife resources.
Conservation Officer Services encourage the public to report all poachers and polluters by calling 1-877-952-7277. The B.C. Wildlife Federation offers rewards up to $2,000 for information leading to the conviction of persons breaking wildlife laws.