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A Saskatchewan based outfitter, Saskatoon Waterfowl Outfitters Inc., has been fined $20,000 in a provincial court in Saskatoon.


The penalties include five counts of illegal outfitting totalling $14,000 and two counts of exceeding daily bag limits and possession limits totalling $6,000.


The fines are a result of investigations one year apart in September 2013 and October 2014 by conservation officers.


Gary Provencher, a conservation officer based in Prince Albert, says Saskatoon Waterfowl Outfitters pleaded guilty on Feb. 18 to five counts of illegal outfitting under The Outfitter and Guide Regulations and two counts under the The Migratory Birds Convention Act and Regulations for hunting violations.


“The Outfitter and Guide Regulations charges did mainly involve paperwork,” Provencher said. “They were charged for failing to ensure all wildlife taken by its clients was identified as belonging to the client or group of clients who took the wildlife, two counts for failing to keep a written record of the names and addresses of all clients, and one count of failing to make written records available at the request of a conservation officer with the Ministry of Environment.”


Don McCrea, owner and president of Saskatoon Waterfowl Outfitters, says the issue is not an illegal outfitting problem but a paperwork issue.


“They were never actually over the limit of birds. It just didn’t show well on paper. Saskatoon Waterfowl never shoots over their limits, ever,” McCrea said.


“We still have our outfitter's license,” he said. “We’re not actually in trouble for shooting over our limits of birds and the (conservation officers) know it’s a paperwork issue. It’s why we still hold our license.”


McCrea added Saskatoon Waterfowl Outfitters have implemented new programs and procedures to ensure there are no further issues with paperwork in the future.


Provencher says the daily bag limit and possession limits were exceeded in this case.


“Our officers, when they investigated, determined that the Saskatoon Waterfowl Outfitter company was over their limits by the number of birds that were in their freezer on the days they took their clients out,” Provencher said.


Between the two incidents, Provencher said there were 122 ducks seized in total. “They were sorted duck species, predominantly consisting of mallards but there were also shovelers, teal, and pintails as well.”


During the first incident on Sept. 19 2013, the hunters were nine ducks over their limit.


On the second incident on Oct. 3 2014, the hunters were 33 ducks over their limit.


According to the Saskatoon Waterfowl Outfitters website, the daily limits imposed upon hunters are “eight Canadas,” in reference to Canadian geese, four of which can be speckle-bellied geese. Eight is the daily limit for ducks, four of which can be pintail ducks. Hunters are allowed to hunt up to 20 snow geese, and the limit for sand cranes is five per day.


The possession limit is three times the daily limit: 24 Canadian geese, 12 speckle bellies, 24 ducks, 12 pintails, 60 snow geese, and 15 sand cranes.