Okanagan Man Fined In Wildlife Trafficking Case

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A Vernon-area man has been fined $3,500 after pleading guilty to wildlife trafficking-related offences under the Wildlife Act.

Gunter Koch pleaded guilty in Vernon provincial court March 4 to four counts of unlawful possession of dead wildlife and one count of trafficking in dead wildlife. Koch received fines of $2,000 for unlawful possession and $1,500 for trafficking.

A joint investigation involving members of the conservation officer service in Vernon and Creston and the special investigations unit in Victoria originally resulted in 18 charges against Koch. In lieu of the guilty pleas, a stay of proceedings was entered on the remaining charges.

The investigation began in spring 2001, when permit irregularities resulted in a large shipment of bear rugs, hides, wolf rugs, antlers and ungulate capes being refused entry into the United States at the Kingsgate border crossing near Creston. Follow-up investigation by conservation officers led to the seizure of 125 wildlife items with a total value of about $15,000. The court ordered these items, which included two grizzly bear rugs and two black bear rugs, forfeited to the Crown.

The conservation officer service urges the public to help stop illegal trade in animal parts. Anyone with knowledge of such activity is asked to call the Observe, Record and Report line at 1-800-663-WILD(9453). All information will be kept confidential.