WINNIPEG — An Arborg man saw his goose cooked in court Thursday as a judge convicted him for his small role in a hush-hush international investigation into bird-hunting practices in Manitoba.
Provincial court Judge John Guy found Douglas Ager, 56, guilty Thursday of several infractions under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
Ager was convicted of possessing and transporting Canada Goose and other water fowl carcasses without having tags attached to identify who hunted them and their hunting licence number.
The tag requirement is mandatory under the convention’s regulations.
Breaching it is considered a “strict liability” offence, meaning intent doesn’t factor into assessment of guilt or innocence.
Ager’s case saw details of what was dubbed Operation Bluegrass Branth revealed publicly for the first time.
The project was a joint undercover probe by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Manitoba Conservation and Environment Canada.
In March 2010, the Canadian agencies reached out to U.S. counterparts for help investigating a Manitoba hunting guide, Craig Littlepage.
Officials suspect he violated wildlife laws, Guy was told.
By October that year, two FWS officers came to Canada and posed undercover as American duck hunters in an effort to gather evidence.
Officer Erryl Wolgemuth testified he and another undercover agent, John Rayfield, hired Littlepage, of Stony Mountain-based Goosemasters Legendary Hunts, as their guide.
They and a few others were taken hunting for ducks and geese, and the numerous birds they killed were loaded into the back of Littlepage’s truck.
The birds — plus about 60 others shot the night before — were then driven over to Ager's property nearby.
Littlepage referred to Ager as “the chicken man,” Guy was told.
Littlepage, 38, is due in court Monday for the start of a lengthy trial.
He faces charges under the Wildlife Act, the migratory birds convention and Resource Tourism Operators Act.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 16, 2014