By Jen Gerson
They were Alberta’s Bonnie and Clyde of poaching, dumping headless game across the wilds of the province for months — an elk here, a black bear there. But, unlike more notorious and clever criminals, the young, attractive duo — Kristopher Brophy, 35, and his girlfriend Michelle Haseloh, 25 — left a trail beyond the carcasses of dead animals.
They videotaped themselves conducting their crimes, including footage of them killing a black bear. Ms. Haseloh also used her camera phone to record her kills.
It was an investigation as thorough as many homicide cases receive, the government said. And like an increasing number of other poaching investigations, one that came to rely heavily not only on reports from the public, but on the social-media-savvy stupidity of the poachers themselves.
Pictures of the Hummer-driving Brophy standing over his prey have since flooded the Internet.
“The aspect that’s becoming ever more prominent is the digital type evidence, which is things like web pages, the Facebook posts and even things like information that comes from individual cellphones,” said Neil Brad, a compliance officer with the province’s fish and wildlife enforcement branch. “Obviously, we rely heavily on calls from the public. They see so much, and there’s only so much resourcing from our end to actively monitor things like web pages.”
Mr. Brad said digital technology is increasingly helping officers to not only track poachers, but to help prove their guilt.
“It’s becoming more and more prominent in almost every kind of investigation we conduct. There’s some kind of digital evidence comes into play,” he said.
Increasingly, fish and wildlife investigators are relying on trophy shots taken with camera phones and posted to Facebook. More....