A 51-year-old Penticton man has been fined almost $1,500 for illegally poaching a bighorn sheep near Saliken Drive, just outside the city limits of Penticton.
It was a first offence for the hunter, who was not identified in a news release sent out by South Okanagan zone conservation officer Bob Hamilton. The event occurred Dec. 6.
According to Hamilton, the animal was quickly field dressed and most of the meat was removed from the kill site. The man was observed by a hiker with binoculars who later was able to lead conservation officers to the man's home.
Hamilton said the suspect was co-operative and the meat was turned over to the officers. In the course of the investigation, it was determined that the man also shot two mule deer bucks in the Okanagan last hunting season (the mule deer buck limit is one). The single mule deer species licence that the shooter had was not cancelled as is required under the Wildlife Act.
As fines can range as high as $100,000, in this case, conservation officers took into account that the man was a novice hunter and he co-operated with authorities.
In addition to $1,495 in fines, a request will be made by the conservation officers to the director of wildlife to suspend the man's hunting privileges for an undetermined period of time as well as require him to retake his Conservation Outdoor Recreation Education course after the suspension is served.
The CORE course is in addition to the federal firearms course that every prospective firearm hunter must take to demonstrate safe handling of firearms.
The hunting season for California bighorn sheep in the Okanagan is only open by way of a provincial limited entry draw, only open for rams, and in the Penticton area only seven permits are issued for the year. No hunting of ewes is allowed anywhere in the Okanagan.
Conservation officers acknowledge the efforts of the young witness who saw it as his duty to "observe, record and report" the violation. His name will be submitted to the B.C. Wildlife Federation for a reward. People who witness a violation involving B.C.'s wildlife resources or pollution to the environment are asked to immediately phone 1-877-952-7277.