Saskatchewan has introduced new measures to crack down on the poaching of wildlife.
According to officials, the market for animal parts such as antlers can spur some people to operate outside the rules for hunting game.
"If it's a world record set [of antlers\ I've heard there's been blank cheques for people trying to get a hold of those," Ken Aube, director of compliance and enforcement with Saskatchewan Environment, said Tuesday. "So there's some pretty serious collectors out there."
Aube noted that catching poachers can be tricky as some use very sophisticated equipment, like long-range scopes, to take down an animal. The longer distance (sometimes several hundred metres) from a carcass makes it harder for investigators to determine a firing point.
"If you found an animal that was shot and left, for example, when you're investigating that scene there are only certain points where this animal could have been shot from. And when they could be shooting up to a kilometre away it just increases the odds that you'll never be able to find where the shot was taken from," he said.
The new laws were welcomed by members of the Saskatchewan Federation of Wildlife.
"Trophy sets of antlers are probably still the number-one concern out there and probably the easiest poaching opportunity that there might be: where you can shoot an animal, harvest the head or take the head off and escape," Darrell Crabbe, executive director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation said Tuesday.
The government highlighted the following elements of the proposed amendments:
- The most serious conservation offences will carry an automatic two-year suspension.
- People who fail to pay wildlife-related fines will be prohibited from buying a licence until their fines are paid.
- People who are suspended from hunting activities in another jurisdiction will not be able to purchase a licence in Saskatchewan.
- Those convicted on three separate occasions for wildlife offences will have a lifetime ban, prohibiting the purchase of hunting licenses.
- In collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, people who are in arrears for maintenance payments will be denied the opportunity to purchase a hunting or angling licence.