Pincher Creek Fish and Wildlife officers Matias Voramwald and Paul Johnson at the Pincher Creek courthouse
T. Lucas photos/video except*Toni Lucas
Six men from Lethbridge were at the Pincher Creek Provincial Court today, Tuesday September 29, to face charges related to poaching fish from the Oldman River.
Kanchan Subba, Harka Gurung, Suk Bahadur Subba, Sunny Gurung, Sha Bahadur Subba, and Dhan Kumar Gurung were tried as a group, and pleaded guilty to a charge of Unlawfully Caught Fish.
On June 24 of this year they were found by Pincher Creek Fish and Wildlife District Officer Paul Johnson in possession of 25 cutthroat trout and four bull trout, which are both considered to be threatened species.
|Poached fish (submitted photo)*|
Defence lawyer Marshall Gourlay said the six men came from Bhutan, an area torn apart by civil war. He said they had spent most of their lives in refugee camps, and two of them were born and raised in those camps. According to Gourlay the men have permanent immigration status and are trying to create a life in Canada. "They were not doing it for profit," said Gourlay. He outlined the lives the men live now, adding that none of them have a previous record, and said they have 'minimal means'.
Judge Oishi said she was going to keep the sentence "proportionate to the offence and the offenders." As this was the first offence for all six men, she levied a charge of $1000 for each person, ordered that their seized fishing equipment be returned to them, and agreed to the suspension of their fishing licences until the termination date of those licences in 2016, at which point the men would be able to apply again for new fishing licences. All remaining charges were withdrawn.
Angler Jordan Pinkster speaks after sentencing
|Concerned anglers Cam Johnston and Jordan Pinkster|
Alberta anglers plan to observe poaching case at Pincher Creek Provincial Court