By Barry Kerton
Seven people from the Edson, Darwell, Carvel and Redwater areas will appear in Edmonton, Stony Plain and Edson provincial courts after Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers lay 23 wildlife trafficking charges.
On July 14, the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Special Investigations branch concluded a two-year investigation following the seizure of 322 packages of moose and elk meat along with $1,105 cash and a 2013 F-150 pickup truck.
Fish and Wildlife officials estimate the value of the meat to be about $6,500.
Alberta Justice spokesperson Brendan Cox said the Fish and Wildlife officials started to look into the alleged offences after receiving tips from the public that meat from wild game was being illegally bought and sold in the Lac Ste Ann area.
Fish and Wildlife officials decided to launch an undercover operation targeting several identified suspects.
While it is legal for a hunter to process and eat meat from legally harvested wild game, they are not legally permitted to sell it.
According to Cox, most purchasers of illegal wild game meat aren’t even aware what they are doing is illegal.
“The only way a person can buy meat from wild game is if it comes from a commercially regulated farm where the animals are raised,” he said. “It cannot come from wild animals,”
He said that is why all levels of government take wildlife poaching and trafficking crimes so seriously.
“Our goal is to protect and conserve the province’s wildlife,” he said. “When you have someone who is unlawfully selling animal parts or wildlife, it increases the demand and helps fuel the black market. When you put a price tag on our wildlife, it can endanger populations and ultimately we want to ensure future generations can enjoy the wildlife like we do today.”
For more information or to report illegal activity, contact the Alberta Fish and Wildlife enforcement branch office at 310-0000.
Cox said people can also report poachers through the department’s 24-hour poacher hotline at 1-800-642-3800.