A Campbell River man has been fined $3,000 for illegally killing a moose.
Edward MacCulloch also forfeited his rifle, scope and ammunition after pleading guilty to hunting wildlife out of season and obstructing a conservation officer.
MacCulloch represented himself during Monday’s appearance in Campbell River provincial court.
Two other wildlife-related charges were dropped in exchange for the guilty pleas.
According to the Crown prosecutor John Blackman, MacCulloch was hunting near Fort St. John on Oct. 13, 2102, when he shot a three-point bull moose out of season.
One of the antler tips was also broken off in an attempt to make it appear it was a legal two-point moose.
Someone tipped off conservation officers about the kill and they showed up at MacCulloch’s camp the next morning.
The animal was lying in an old oil field and had already been “field gutted and dressed.”
At first, MacCulloch denied breaking off the antler tip, but a female friend finally “came clean” with the officers. That also led to MacCulloch telling the truth.
In court, MacCulloch explained he has a disability and requires a companion to help him hunt.
On the day of the hunt, MacCulloch and the woman pursued a moose for hours without success.
Late in the day, they spotted a moose that they believed to be a two-point bull and the woman “urged me to shoot,” said MacCulloch, who scored a hit. MacCulloch said he did not immediately report the kill because it was very late and they stayed up until 2 a.m. gutting the animal.
He also admitted he had shot the wrong animal and then tried to cover up the mistake by breaking off the antler tip.
MacCulloch told Judge Brian Klaver it was his intention to report the kill first thing in the morning, but never did because conservation officers showed up at 9 a.m.
The maximum penalty for illegally killing wildlife is $100,000 and a year in jail. MacCulloch was fined $3,000 of which $2,800 will go to the B.C. Habitat Conservation Trust Fund.
According to Blackman, the high fines are in place to act as a deterrence.
There’s also a high degree of responsibility placed on hunters to obey the rules because enforcement is difficult.
“The province is so vast that it’s impossible to have a conservation officer on every logging road,” he said. “The province is very, very hard to police in terms of wildlife.”
In addition to forfeiting his hunting gear, the province seized the moose, and MacCulloch is banned from hunting for one year as well as being in the presence of other hunters.
The judge gave MacCulloch 30 months to pay the fine due to the fact he lives off a small disability pension.