Decision Date: June 11, 2009
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 24(2), 24(5); unlawful hunting; unlawful guiding; licence cancellation; period of ineligibility; delay
Richard F. Horning appealed a decision of the Deputy Director of Wildlife, Ministry of Environment (the “Ministry”), to cancel his hunting privileges for five years and require him to successfully complete the Conservation Outdoor Recreation Education program prior to the reinstatement of his hunting privileges.
The events that led to the licensing action against Mr. Horning occurred in December 1998. Mr. Horning took an American on a guided hunt in which the American killed a cougar. Mr. Horning was not a licensed guide. Mr. Horning then cancelled another person’s cougar species licence and made false statements on a Ministry inspection form, to hide the illegal activities. He also made false statements on a Ministry inspection form regarding a cougar he had shot. In December 2000, following an investigation by Conservation Officers, Mr. Horning was convicted of unlawfully acting as a guide, making a false statement to a Conservation Officer, and unlawfully using another person’s hunting licences.
In 2005, a former Deputy Director sent a letter to Mr. Horning notifying him that his hunting privileges may be cancelled. However, Mr. Horning did not receive that notice. In October 2007, the Deputy Director sent another notice to Mr. Horning, which he received. Mr. Horning sent a brief response to the Deputy Director, in which he expressed surprise that licensing action was still being considered. In December 2008, the Deputy Director issued his decision. He found that an eight-year period of cancellation was appropriate given Mr. Horning’s actions, but the Deputy Director reduced the period by three years to account for the Ministry’s delay in taking licensing action.
Mr. Horning appealed and asked the Board to eliminate the period of cancellation.
The Board found that a five-year cancellation period, rather than eight years, properly reflects the seriousness of Mr. Horning’s contraventions, their effect on wildlife resources, and an appropriate level of deterrence, compared to other situations involving illegal guiding and illegal hunting. Regarding deterrence, the Board found that Mr. Horning had continued to hunt since his convictions and had not committed any further contraventions. The Board held that, given the length of time since the contraventions occurred, and Mr. Horning’s clean record since then, specific deterrence was not a significant consideration.
The Board then considered mitigating factors. The Board found that Mr. Horning showed some remorse in his submissions to the Board, and this warranted a reduction of six months. The Board agreed with the Deputy Director that a three-year reduction due to the Ministry’s delay was appropriate. Consequently, the Board found that Mr. Horning’s hunting privileges should be cancelled for a total of 1 year and six months, after mitigating factors were considered.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed, in part.