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Yukon man fined $31,500 for illegally guiding non-resident hunters

WHITEHORSE - A Yukon man who once made his living working for an outfitter has been ordered to pay a hefty fine for illegally guiding non-residents on various hunting trips.

James Richards must pay a total of $31,500 and was prohibited from hunting and guiding for 20 years as part of his sentence in Yukon Territorial Court.

Richards, 51, pleaded guilty to four charges including illegal transportation of wildlife and accompanying or assisting non-residents on guided hunts in exchange for compensation.

The hunting trips occurred in the Pelly Mountains in 2006, the Coast Mountains west of Whitehorse in 2009, in north-central Yukon in 2010 and in the Pilot Mountain area in 2011.

Court heard that using his own licence, Richards took unlicensed non-Yukon residents hunting for sheep and also used special guide licences for caribou, moose and grizzly bear in exchange for money.

According to Environment Yukon, only registered outfitters may provide guided sheep hunting opportunities to non-residents. Guides with a special guide licence are not allowed to do so for compensation.

While Richards, a former Whitehorse resident, once worked for a Yukon outfitter, he wasn't doing so during these hunts.

Ryan Hennings, manager of enforcement and compliance with Environment Yukon, said Tuesday the fine is significant, but the goal is deterrence.

"We take this very seriously," he said.

James W. Colosimo, Jr., a 53-year-old Alberta resident, was also fined $15,000 and prohibited from hunting for 15 years.

While visiting the Yukon, Colosimo went on two sheep hunts with Richards during which Colosimo killed a Dall sheep and a Stone sheep.

Hennings said Colosimo didn't have a hunting licence, and he used Richards' licence and tag.

They then claimed Richards had hunted the rams, and shipped them to Colosimo's home in Alberta.

The two sets of sheep horns were seized by Alberta Fish and Wildlife and will be returned to the Yukon.

While Colosimo still lives in Alberta, he has been doing some mining work in the Yukon, said Crown prosecutor Lee Kirkpatrick.

If he lives in the territory during the next 15 years, he will not be allowed to obtain a Yukon hunting licence.

The investigation began in 2010 after Environment Yukon received a tip from the public.

Conservation officers in the Yukon and Alberta then obtained search warrants for Richards' and Colosimo's homes. (Whitehorse Star)

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