MANITOBA Conservation officials say they've put a halt to an elk-poaching operation in southwestern Manitoba.
Natural resources officers, acting on a tip in 2013, discovered several elk had been illegally killed at night in the Stockton/Treesbank area, near where the Souris River joins the Assiniboine River.
They collected evidence from the kill sites but didn't identify any suspects, so the department launched an undercover operation.
In December 2013, an undercover officer went to the Shady Lane Hutterite Colony and purchased elk meat from a colony member, identified as Brian Hofer.
This was the beginning of a year-long investigation that involved numerous visits to the colony and multiple purchases of elk meat.
During the investigation, officers learned Hofer had purchased elk from certain individuals in late 2013 or early 2014, most likely for resale.
In December 2014, natural resources officers, with help from the RCMP, went to the Shady Lane colony and served Hofer with a summons for illegal meat sales and for possessing elk without legal authority, the government said in a news release Thursday.
"While officers were at the colony, Hofer admitted he was expecting another delivery of elk meat. RCMP officers stopped and arrested the alleged supplier, (who was) driving a truck while in possession of two butchered elk carcasses," the release said.
"As part of the investigation, a number of items were seized, including the truck, two elk carcasses, cellphones and a GPS unit. One individual was charged for offering to sell wild meat to Hofer."
On April 27, Hofer pleaded guilty to five counts of violating the Wildlife Act, which makes it illegal to sell, buy, trade or barter or offer to sell, buy, trade or barter, or keep for the purpose of sale, the meat of any wild animal.
Hofer was fined $10,000 and banned from hunting for two years.
The investigation into the person selling elk to Hofer is ongoing.