• Philip Woodcock v. Deputy Director of Wildlife

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    Decision Date: October 8, 2014

    Panel: Alan Andison

    Keywords: Wildlife Act – s. 24, 26(1)(c) making false statements; non-resident hunting without a permit or licenced guide; hunting wildlife out of season; fine; suspension of hunting licence privileges; consent order

    Mr. Woodcock appealed the decision (the “Decision”) of the Deputy Director (the “Deputy Director”), Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (the “Ministry”), to suspend Mr. Woodcock’s hunting privileges for a two year period. Additionally, Mr. Woodcock was required to complete the Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education program (the “CORE program”) prior to regaining his hunting privileges. The Deputy Director made the Decision in relation to an incident in which Mr. Woodcock shot a Mule Deer out of season, and without a permit or a licensed guide.

    The Deputy Director described the events that led to the licence suspension as follows. In October 2012, Mr. Woodcock was accompanying Mr. Armstrong, a fellow hunter, when Mr. Armstrong reported to a conservation officer (the “Conservation Officer”) that he had mistakenly shot a Mule Deer, in a management unit that was closed to Mule Deer hunting. Mr. Armstrong gave a statement to the Conservation Officer, in which he attested that he had misidentified the Mule Deer as a White-tail Deer, which were open for hunting in the relevant management unit. After Mr. Armstrong had given his statement, the Conservation Officer asked to see Mr. Woodcock’s hunting licence, and noticed that Mr. Woodcock had cancelled the tag for White-tailed Deer in the same area on that same day. When confronted about his licence, Mr. Woodcock admitted that he had mistakenly shot the Mule Deer, and that Mr. Armstrong had reported doing so to cover up for the licence infraction that Mr. Woodcock had committed. He also admitted that he had lived outside of Canada for four years, but he falsely indicated in his hunting licence application that he was still a resident, in order to avoid non-resident hunter fees. Mr. Woodcock gave a sworn statement of this admission to the Conservation Officer.

    In respect of the above mentioned events, Mr. Woodcock was charged with four violations of the Wildlife Act (the “Act”), but was found guilty of only one violation on the criminal standard of proof; specifically, section 26(1)(c), hunting wildlife not within open season. The Court issued Mr. Woodcock a $1050 fine.

    Following the Court’s decision, the Conservation Officer requested that the Deputy Director take licensing action against Mr. Woodcock. In response to this request, the Deputy Director sent Mr. Woodcock a notification letter, containing the evidence and allegations against him, and requested written submissions from Mr. Woodcock responding to the enclosed material. Mr. Woodcock did not provide submissions within the given time period.

    Subsequently, the Deputy Director, in light of the evidence and materials before him, issued the Decision suspending Mr. Woodcock’s hunting privileges for two years, and requiring Mr. Woodcock to complete the CORE program. In his reasons for the Decision, the Deputy Director found that Mr. Woodcock had committed three of the four violations that he had originally been charged with, on the civil standard of proof. Specifically, the Director found that Mr. Woodcock had made a false statement to obtain a hunting licence, which is prohibited by section 82(1)(a) of the Act; was a non-resident hunter without a permit or licensed guide, which is prohibited by section 47(b) of the Act; and had hunted wildlife not within open season, which is prohibited by section 26(1)(c) of the Act. Further, the Deputy Director found that this was not the first time that Mr. Woodcock had violated the Wildlife Act.

    In August 2014, Mr. Woodcock appealed the Deputy Director’s Decision to the Environmental Appeal Board (the “Board”). In is Notice of Appeal, he admitted that he had made a mistake, he felt remorseful about the violations, and he had not responded to the Deputy Director’s request due to a miscommunication.

    Prior to the hearing of the appeal, the parties negotiated an agreement with respect to the appealed Decision. With the parties consent, the Board ordered that the language in the Decision be changed to reduce the two-year suspension of Mr. Woodcock’s hunting privileges to a one-year suspension.