Three men — two from La Scie and one from Brent’s Cove — were fined a total of $12,900 recently in provincial court in Corner Brook for nine offences under the Wildlife Act, the provincial government announced.
Stewart Morey, 57, was fined $5,400; Gordon Sullivan, 52, was fined $4,500; and Randy Budgell, 28, was fined $3,000.
In addition to the fines, the three men are prohibited from holding a moose or caribou licence for five years.
Morey also had his six-wheeled ATV — valued at approximately $5,000 — forfeited to the Crown.
The facts of the case state that in November 2010, members of the public had expressed concerns that widespread wildlife poaching was occurring in the La Scie area on the Baie Verte Peninsula.
As a result, enforcement officers investigated the killing of three moose, including a calf, by poachers near the community of La Scie. The initial investigation led officers to multiple kill sites where they gathered DNA samples from the remains.
The investigation found that Morey, Sullivan and Budgell were involved. The moose were illegally killed and transported to a remote cabin where it was butchered, and then the meat was transported by ATV to the homes of two of the suspects in nearby communities.
With the assistance of the RCMP, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and officials with the Department of Natural Resources, officers executed search warrants and secured large quantities of moose meat from the suspects’ residences, which was then sent for DNA analysis.
The analysis confirmed the meat confiscated from freezers in the homes of the poachers was an exact match to the DNA from the samples gathered at the illegal kill sites some weeks earlier.
Before Judge Wayne Gorman, Morey and Budgell pleaded guilty to three counts of killing big game animals (three moose) while not being the holders of a licence to do so, while Sullivan pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal possession of a big game animal (moose).
A sentencing hearing was held Sept. 21 with Gorman’s decision on sentencing filed Oct. 1.