DNA testing, surveillance, dog tracking and an anonymous informant — apparently, provincial natural resource officers don’t mess around.
Take, for example, this case of a Sandy Bay First Nation man who was convicted of night hunting with lights.
“Hunting at night is dangerous for obvious reasons,” Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta pointed out to Lewis Jordan Starr as he pleaded guilty to the offence.
On Aug. 15, 2011, Natural resource officers were on surveillance near Carberry, based on a complaint made a week before. Around 1:40 a.m., they spotted a pickup truck as it travelled along a clearing for a power line. A light from the vehicle was being shone into a nearby field.
The officers got a better view of the truck a couple of minutes later and could see one of the occupants shining a light from the open sunroof.
With the lights of their own vehicle off, officers then followed the suspect truck for a number of miles. But when they caught up to it, it had been abandoned.
Inside the truck, officers found more than 100 live rifle rounds, rifles, a hacksaw with blood on it and various other items that included a treaty card that belonged to one of the suspects.
There was also blood in the box of the truck.
Officers tried to track the suspects using a dog but lost the trail.
Investigators later spoke to the owner of the truck, who had reported it as stolen to MPI.
However, an anonymous tipster then stepped forward to reveal that the truck wasn’t stolen. Starr had borrowed it from the owner, his girlfriend.
Footage from a gas station surveillance camera taken shortly before the truck had been spotted near the field showed Starr and a co-accused with the vehicle.
The girlfriend then acknowledged that Starr had borrowed her truck and told her he was “going for a ride.”
Meanwhile, DNA tests had determined that some of the blood from the truck was that of a male elk and some was that of a female white-tailed deer.
All this led Starr, a 29-year-old Sandy Bay First Nation resident, to plead guilty in Brandon court on Thursday to hunting at night with lights under the Wildlife Act.
Starr admitted he was part of a group that night — he was a passenger in the truck — and they panicked when they had spotted the resource officers.
Hewitt-Michta fined Starr $1,250 and suspended his big game and game bird licences for three years.
In addition, the 2011 Toyota Tundra truck that belonged to Starr’s girlfriend was confiscated.