Thousands in fines will be paid by a Cowichan man and two acquaintances after an undercover operation by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service revealed they had knowingly tried to buy/sell illegal deer meat.
The incidents happened years ago but sentencing was recently concluded.
Court documents revealed that in the fall of 2014 Valentin Alatiit, now 71, approached a retired RCMP officer of First Nations heritage in the WalMart parking lot at Cowichan Commons, expressing an interest in buying wild deer meat. Alatiit gave the retired officer his phone number which was then turned over to the Conservation Officer Service who began a covert investigation.
In the months of November and December that same year, undercover agents sold illegal wild meat to Alatiit twice. During those transactions Alatiit noted that his friend Elmer Baldonaza, now 47, was also interested in purchasing the meat.
Crown Counsel John Blackman confirmed the third offender, Samuel George, now 58, had been selling poached meat he’d hunted himself.
“When the other two gentlemen were being investigated by the undercover conservation officers one of them was asked what was a source of local deer meet and they’d mentioned Mr. George’s name and provided a telephone number,” Blackman explained. “The undercover conservation officers were able to get in contact with Mr. George.”
Blackman said then on two separate occasions the following year, in Duncan, the officers purchased deer meat from Mr. George.
The first to receive his sentence, Baldonaza pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking wildlife and in December of 2017 was given a $5,000 fine for his involvement.
In that sentence, Justice Parker MacCarthy wrote “the early guilty pleas and an expressed intention to deal with the matter at the earliest opportunity by way of guilty pleas,” and “his genuine expression of remorse for his offending behaviour,” his well regarded position within the community, and his willingness to pay a fine were all mitigating factors.
George was sentenced in Duncan on Jan. 30, 2018.
“In his case, the Crown proceeded with one count alleging between Nov. 4, 2015 and Dec. 15, 2015 at Duncan, he trafficked in wildlife meat,” Blackman said.
The minimum sentence for that offence is $2,500 and he received that. He was placed on probation for two years and one of the terms was that he was to do 200 hours of community service, Blackman added.
The final offender to be sentenced, Alatiit has been ordered to pay more than $5,500 in fines after pleading guilty to two counts of trafficking in wildlife meat.
He was sentenced on Sept. 24, 2018.
“Initially he was reluctant to admit that he had breached the law but having had the circumstances of the offence explained to him, he now takes full responsibility and admits his offences before this court,” Justice Parker MacCarthy wrote.