• Thomas Schreiber v. Deputy Director of Wildlife

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    Decision Date: September 1, 1998

    Panel: Jane Luke

    Keywords: Wildlife Act – s. 24; Charter – s. 11(d); Hansen v. Willett, unreported, B.C.S.C. Vancouver Registry No. A872239, September 8, 1987; R. v. Wigglesworth [1987] 2 S.C.R. 541

    Mr. Schreiber was convicted in Provincial Court of hunting wildlife (a Bighorn ram) in an area closed to sheep hunting; possession of dead wildlife not authorized by a licence or permit; knowingly making a false statement (that he had shot the ram in a different area); and violating the Mines Act. Two types of DNA testing had been conducted to determine whether the ram was killed in the closed area: the ram head in Mr. Schreiber’s possession was compared with a carcass found in the closed area. The first test revealed that the two did not match. A second test using a newer method matched the head to the carcass. On appeal, the B.C. Supreme Court overturned all but one of the convictions due to the Crown’s failure to provide evidence on the statistical probability that the match was a coincidence.

    The DNA testing laboratory later provided statistical evidence to the Deputy Director of Wildlife that the match was extremely unlikely to be a coincidence. After receiving oral and written submissions from Mr. Schreiber, the Deputy Director cancelled his hunting and firearm licences for 6 years, and required him to successfully complete the CORE examinations. Mr. Schreiber appealed this decision to the Board on the grounds that the Deputy Director did not have the DNA result from the first test, the cancellation was unreasonable since three of the convictions were overturned, and there was unreasonable delay between the hunt (1993) and the licence cancellation (1998).

    The Panel was satisfied that the Deputy Director’s decision to cancel the licence was reasonable and proper. He had ample evidence on the first test before him but relied on the second test as being more accurate. The Panel found that an administrative tribunal is not prevented from imposing serious sanctions even though criminal proceedings have been concluded in the accused’s favour. It also found that there was overwhelming evidence to conclude that Mr. Schreiber illegally killed the ram and lied about it, notwithstanding that he was not convicted in a criminal court. The Panel found that the Charter provision concerning a trial within a reasonable time does not apply to proceedings concerning a person’s fitness to maintain a licence privileges in an administrative proceedings. However, the Panel found that excessive and unexplained delay is a relevant factor to consider when issuing a penalty. In the circumstances of this case, the Panel found the delay was neither excessive nor unexplained and the cancellation was in the normal range. The appeal was dismissed.