After a lengthy investigation led by the Manitoba Conservation Officer Service, the province has cancelled two hunting outfitters' licenses regarding the illegal hunting of black bears.
This morning the Manitoba Government announced that the investigation was established in 2019 when an American hunter was on his way returning home from Canada with two black bear hides, one hide had a game tag and the other did not. Both of them were seized, as it is illegal to hunt more than one black bear per year in Manitoba.
The investigation, entitled Operation Crossing Line, involved the Manitoba Conservation Officer Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Environment and Climate Change Canada Enforcement Branch. With thorough research, the join organizations discovered multiple violations were made under the Wildlife Act (Manitoba), the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (Canada), and the Lacey Act (U.S.) between 2012 and 2021 by two Manitoba outfitters, their clients and a Manitoba taxidermist.
With these two hunting outfitting companies in focus, it was found that several American hunters using these outfitters were targeting black bears in the wrong Game Hunting Area, with five more instances of a second black bear being killed.
Two Manitoba Hunting Outfitters Licences Cancelled https://t.co/GhbVDpZlxN pic.twitter.com/7ZWBQSG0DQ— Manitoba Gov News (@MBGovNews) March 30, 2023
In August 2020, an American client of the outfitter was convicted of a violation under the Lacey Act for importing an illegally killed black bear. He gave up both black bears and received a $7,500 fine and one year of unsupervised probation.
Approximately a year and a half later in January 2022, an American client of the outfitter who obtained a second licence under a false name in 2019 and exported the bear to the U.S. was convicted under the Lacey Act. He abandoned the second bear and received a $5,000 fine and one year of unsupervised probation.
Then in April 2022, a taxidermist was convicted under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act of providing a false and misleading statement regarding the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permits. The taxidermist received a $730 fine.
Later that year in August, the owner of Royal Elk Outfitting was convicted under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act for furnishing false or misleading information related to the CITES permit. He received a $5,000 fine and forfeited a harvested black bear.
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Then in December 2022, the owner of Royal Elk Outfitting pleaded guilty to 15 counts of violating the Wildlife Act and received a $10,000 fine. On the same day, the owner of South Park Outfitters pleaded guilty to 11 counts of violating the Wildlife Act and received a $2,000 fine.
It was thereafter that the Department of Natural Resources and Northern Development cancelled the Resource Tourism Operators licence for Royal Elk Outfitting and South Park Outfitters, located in the Grandview area.
The Manitoba government is committed to protecting the province’s wildlife and abundant natural resources. Anyone with information on illegal activity is asked to call a local Natural Resources and Northern Development office or the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-782-0076.