A Hudson’s Hope man has been fined $4,750 for illegally hunting with a spotlight.
Justin Thibault pleaded guilty to the charge in Fort St. John provincial court on Monday.
The $4,750 will go to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and Thibault was also handed a five-year hunting ban, which restricts firearm possession to his home and forbids him from being in the presence of anyone who is hunting.
Court heard the incident took place Nov. 5, 2017 as part of conservation officer sting operation to catch Thibault in the act by placing a decoy deer in a field near Farrell Creek. He fled from the officers when they attempted to apprehend him.
Court heard that complaints of night hunting had been received for several years along Farrell Creek Road, prompting COs to conduct surveillance of the area.
In late October 2017, a conservation officer spotted a white pickup truck that had stopped three times along the road, with Thibault allegedly using a mounted light bar and flashlight to spot game. Officers quickly deduced the truck belonged to Thibault and put their plan into motion not long after, court heard.
On the night of Nov. 5, Thibault fired two shots from his truck at the decoy after repositioning his vehicle to have the light bar facing the fake deer. He drove on the shoulder of the Farrell Creek Road and evaded two officers who had tried to stop him with their vehicles, court heard. The officers did not pursue him further.
The truck was seized Dec. 11 after it was reported stolen to RCMP and later found, allowing COs to confirm the vehicle belonged to Thibault. The truck will be returned to him a later date.
It's not the first time Thibault has been in court for violating the Wildlife Act. He was arrested in June 2020 after RCMP confiscated a caged black bear cub from a Farrell Creek property as part of a theft investigation.
Thibault was also in court last summer for allegedly harassing an elk on the Peace River in Hudson’s Hope in 2019. COs seized his boat as part of their investigation, which remains under a detention order extended by the courts.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative. Email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org