Hunters and anglers who break the law will now pay a stiffer price.
© Times-Herald photo by Nathan Liewicki
Kate Prestie, right, works to sew up a Bigmouth Buffalo that was temporarily removed from Buffalo Pound Lake and had a tracking device inserted into its abdomen, while her twin sister Nichole showered the fish's gills with water. The Prestie twins are aquatic field technicians working on a research project for the Water Security Agency.
The Government of Saskatchewan has made a number of changes to the fine structure for unlawful hunting and fishing activities doubling most fines.
"We are trying to send a clear message that these resources are valued and will be protected," said Rich Hildebrand, conservation officer for the Ministry of the Environment. "The ministry hopes that the increased penalties will serve as a deterent to those who consider abusing those resources."
Among the changes include double the fine for angling during closed times and double the fine for leaving edible game in the field.
"This is certainly a significant step in the right direction," said Darrell Crabbe, executive director for the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. "If we look at the level of fines they are a deterent but they aren't that strong of a deterrent yet. Certainly we applaude the move up and I think we are now more in line with our jurisdictional neighbors right now."
Crabbe said the Wildlife Federation has been lobbying for harsher punishment for sometime and said the previous fine structure "didn't have enough teeth."
"It came down to most people were afraid of losing their hunting and fishing privelages than they were about paying the fine. Anytime we can increase those fines and make people think twice about what they are doing, it's always a good thing," added Crabbe.
Hildebrand said the changes were made to improve the health of populations and to insure the "ethical harvest" of all fish and wildlife.
"By putting these rules into place it allows the ministry to assist and achieve management objectives," Hildebrand said. "It can (breaking rules) jeopardize populations when people abuse the rules and regulations."
Crabbe said the two biggest offenses he sees are people leaving their hunt on the field and poaching.
"I don't want to suggest that we have an anomoly here,'" he said. "Poatching is something that unfortunately goes on all over the world. I think it's always prevelant out there and our conservation officers do a great job of nabbing those individuals."
Hunting and fishing offenses can be reported by calling Saskatchewan's toll-free Turn In Poachers line at 1-800-667-7561 or online at www.saskatchewan.ca/conservation.