|CREDIT: Bill Keay/Vancouver Sun
|Bald eagle flying near Broughton Island.
VICTORIA - A Vancouver Island man was fined $10,000 in provincial court for his role in trafficking in bald eagles, following an investigation that began in April 2005.
David Essary Bill of Brentwood Bay pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawfully trafficking in dead wildlife - bald eagles - in Victoria provincial court on Oct. 17, 2008. He was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $9,000 of the fine to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, according to a news release. Bill was also ordered to repay $830 to the courts that was considered to be proceeds from the commission of an offence. He has one year to pay the penalties assessed and must perform 100 hours of community service within six months.
A year-long investigation throughout southern B.C. was undertaken by the Conservation Officer Service into the trafficking and poaching of eagles and other protected birds including golden eagles, hawks and swans.
Charges have been laid against 15 individuals for possession of, and trafficking in, dead wildlife under the Wildlife Act. The accused are from Vancouver, Chilliwack, Chehalis, Langley, Duncan, Brentwood Bay and Hagersville, Ontario.
Bill is the seventh man convicted of 15 individuals who have been charged in a broad southern B.C. protected bird trafficking investigation. A total of $52,430 in penalties has been assessed as a result of the convictions. This investigation began after a separate investigation into the remains of 50 bald eagles found on the North Shore determined that a broader investigation was warranted.
The COS undertook the investigation with support from the Canadian Wildlife Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the RCMP, Vancouver Police Department and agencies in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. The COS would also like to acknowledge the support received from the
Tseil-Waututh First Nation and Squamish First Nation, as well as the public, who provided numerous tips that aided the investigation.
Under the B.C. Wildlife Act in effect at the time the charges were laid, penalties for poaching could be as high as $50,000 for a first offence or a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both for each count.
The maximum penalty for a first offence conviction under the B.C. Wildlife Act is now $250,000, up from the previous $50,000 maximum, following amendments introduced by Environment Minister Barry Penner this spring. Penalties can also now include imprisonment for a term of two years, up from the previous six months.