Keywords:Wildlife Act: s. 33(2), s. 48(1); hunting licence cancellation; period of ineligibility; admissions
Mr. Scouten appealed the decision of the Deputy Director of Wildlife (the “Deputy Director”), Ministry of Environment, to cancel his hunting licence and to declare him ineligible to hunt or obtain or renew a hunting licence for a period of 25 years. The decision arose out of an undercover investigation concluded in 2000, and Mr. Scouten’s subsequent conviction in Provincial Court for various offences under the Wildlife Act, including illegal possession of wildlife parts and illegally acting as a hunting guide.
Mr. Scouten asked the Board to reduce or eliminate the period of ineligibility. Two issues were raised in the appeal. The first issue was whether the Deputy Director took into account irrelevant factors, including a number of other charges for which Mr. Scouten was acquitted. The second issue was whether the period of ineligibility should be eliminated or reduced in the circumstances.
Regarding the first issue, the Board found that the Deputy Director did not consider any irrelevant factors when making his decision. He properly considered the evidence based on the information that was before him at the time. However, the Board considered the matter anew, with the benefit of hearing from both Mr. Scouten and the Deputy Director, and reached its own conclusions about the evidence for the purposes of determining the appropriate period of ineligibility.
Turning to the second issue, the Board found that it was appropriate to consider not only the offences for which Mr. Scouten was convicted, but also his admissions in respect of a number of other offences as aggravating factors, as they showed a flagrant disregard for wildlife laws. However, in light of the factual uncertainty surrounding these unproven offences and previous Board decisions wherein periods of ineligibility were considered, the Board found that a 25 year period of ineligibility was excessive. Therefore, the Board reduced the period of ineligibility to 17 years.