By Melanie Eksal
Special to OsoyoosToday
An Oliver hunting guide will pay more than $24,000 in fines and donations for baiting and killing a black bear in “disgraceful” fashion during an undercover investigation in 2016, a Penticton judge ruled Monday.
James Darin Wiens, 51, pleaded guilty to three Wildlife Act charges last year: hunting with bait, feeding or attempting to feed dangerous wildlife, and hunting from a motorized vehicle.
The fate of his licence and business, Vaseux Creek Outfitters, which Mr. Wiens has operated for more than 30 years after inheriting it from his father, is to be determined by the province.
Harsh words from Judge
Judge Michelle Daneliuk condemned Mr. Wiens’ actions as she recounted the events of May 2016, when two American conservation officers posed as hunters and contacted Wiens about a guided tour.
Officers noted and photographed Mr. Wiens using fryer grease, bacon and dog food as bait to lure bears to the area where they were hunting.
A bear, which Judge Daneliuk referred to as a “sitting duck,” was then shot and killed the following day at one of the sites Mr. Wiens had baited.
“In this court’s opinion, this was not a hunt,” Judge Daneliuk said. “This was a shooting gallery, created by Mr. Wiens.”
Her stern words did not stop there.
“This is dishonourable and disgraceful conduct on the part of someone who has been benefiting from the privilege as licensed by the province of British Columbia to hunt animals for profit throughout his entire adult life,” she said.
She also called Mr. Wiens’ contract for the hunt ironic, as he outlined in it that the B.C. Wildlife Act and code of ethics were to be followed.
“And further, ironically, ‘Any hunter not following regulations or guide’s legal instruction will have the guide terminated without refund,’” Judge Daneliuk read from the contract. “And yet, Mr. Wiens failed to adhere to the standards at which he held others.”
In doing so, Judge Danlieuk said, Mr. Wiens “abused his position of trust.”
Penalty includes fines and donation
Mr. Wiens will pay a total of $18,000 to the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, $500 in court fines and will be required to forfeit his “savage” rifle and ammunition.
He will also be required to pay back the $6,305 dollars he received as payment from the undercover officers for the hunt.
Judge Daneliuk reminded Mr. Wiens she could have imposed a much harsher penalty, including jail time.
His lawyer argued at the start of the sentencing hearing in November that the undercover officers knew Mr. Wiens was “vulnerable” because his grandmother had died two months earlier, and that he only baited the bears to speed up the hunt after one of the officers mentioned his own fictitious grandmother was dying.