• Normand Gagné v. Senior Conservation Officer

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    Decision Date: December 22, 1999

    Panel: Katherine Hough

    Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 2(3) and (4), 19(1)(b); problem wildlife; black bears; family unit; bear hides; ownership; seizure; conflict of interest, fettering

    This was an appeal by Normand Gagné against the decision of the Senior Conservation Officer (“Senior CO”) to deny Mr. Gagné a permit to own or possess the hides of a female black bear and two cubs of the year. The mother bear had been shot by a third party in the third party’s chicken coop on Christmas Eve. Prior to shooting the two cubs which were later discovered in the coop, the third party received verbal permission from a Conservation Officer. Mr. Gagné collected the carcasses after being assured by the third party and the Conservation Officer that he would receive a permit to possess and sell the hides. However, upon application, the Senior CO refused to issue a permit.

    The Panel found that, as the mother bear was killed to protect property, it remained the property of the government under the Wildlife Act and, therefore, a permit to possess it was required. The Panel considered each of the reasons given by the Senior CO for refusing the permit and found that he failed to base his decision on the facts of the case, and that a permit to possess the bear hide should be issued. However, the Panel noted that a permit to possess does not transfer ownership to the permittee. As Mr. Gagné wanted the ability to sell the hide, the Panel therefore gave him the choice of accepting the permit to possess or waiting for the Government to sell the hide at auction.

    Regarding the cubs, the Panel found that they had become the rightful property of Mr. Gagné and that they should be returned to him. The Panel found that the cubs were killed for humane reasons because they would not have survived the winter without their mother. The Panel found that the Conservation Officer’s verbal permission to kill the cubs constituted a verbal permit which had the effect of transferring ownership of the cubs to the third party. As the “owner” then gave the cubs to Mr. Gagné, he did not require permission from the government to keep their hides, and the hides were to be returned to him.