British Columbia hunters face bans, fines and forfeiture of trophies

Whitehorse, Yukon - June 17, 2015 - Environment Canada

On May 29, 2015, Scott Bradley MacKenzie and Michael Glen Makasoff were each fined $7500 after pleading guilty to illegally transporting and exporting Dall sheep without a permit from Yukon to British Columbia. These offences are in contravention of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). The court ordered that the fine be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

In addition to the fine, both MacKenzie and Makasoff face a five-year prohibition from hunting in the Yukon, and from seeking any wildlife export permit under the Yukon Wildlife Act, and a prohibition from obtaining any Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permits for the import and export of wildlife from Canada. Both hunters are also required to forfeit their respective taxidermied Dall sheep to the Crown.

In 2012, Environment Canada wildlife officers in Whitehorse became aware of an alleged illegal Dall sheep hunt in the Yukon by two BC residents that happened ten years earlier, in 2002.

On July 30, 2012, Environment Canada and Environment Yukon officers, based on photographic evidence, flew to the alleged location of the illegal kill to locate and positively identify the camp and suspected kill sites in Yukon.

After an extensive ground search, officers located the kill site of MacKenzie’s Dall sheep, and located the area where Makasoff killed and posed with his sheep.

Forensic photographic evidence was collected at the scene and was later compared with the evidence photos of the two accused posing with the sheep. The photographic evidence positively identified the kill sites as located in Yukon, confirming a violation of WAPPRIITA.

On November 6, 2013, a Search Warrant was executed at MacKenzie’s outfitting business, Sugar Valley Outfitters. The Dall sheep shoulder mount and a photo of MacKenzie posing with the Dall sheep were seized.

The successful prosecution in this case rested largely on the exhaustive comparison, led by Philip Merchant, retired Environment Yukon Animal Health Coordinator, of the mounted sheep and measurement of the sheep’s horns, against a database of 8,000 sheep harvested in the Yukon since the 1970’s.

In addition to measuring the length of the horns, the investigators also compared the annuli of the sheep against those of the database. Annuli are rings added to the sheep’s horns as they grow older, much like rings of a tree.

Lastly, the investigation took the extraordinary step of scaling, to life size, the photos taken by the accused at the kill site, and comparing and measuring the photo in relation to the mount, and the measurements contained in the paperwork used to register the sheep in British Columbia.

As a result of the laborious and diligent efforts of Mr. Merchant, and Environment Canada’s officers, the prosecution was able to prove that no ambiguity could exist between this sheep and any other.

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