Undercover sting operation at the heart of conservation charges

A long-established Oliver hunting guide has admitted to baiting and hunting bears and could face a stiff penalty at the Penticton courts in the new year.

James Wiens, 51, pleaded guilty to three Wildlife Act charges Tuesday stemming from an undercover sting orchestrated by the BC Conservation Officer Service on Vaseux Creek Outfitters.

Court heard that BC Conservation opened an investigation into Wiens in 2016 after a complaint from the public. Investigators enlisted the help of two conservation officers from Idaho and Washington State. The sting saw the American officers pose as prospective clients interested in a black bear hunt.

Crown prosecutor John Blackman said Wiens told the undercover officers he had a 100 per cent success rate on black bear hunts.

“He added that they would sit and watch in the afternoons — there were some clover patches and other areas he knows the bears will come into like clockwork every day,” Blackman said.

Instead, over the span of four days during a hunting trip in May 2016, the officers observed and in some cases, photographed, Wiens pouring fryer grease and dog food at various locations to bait bears.

Referring to 973-pages worth of disclosure from the Crown, defence lawyer Kevin Church noted that the undercover operation was intricately planned in every fashion.

The judge, Michelle Daneliuk directed the matter be set over for a date early next year for her to deliver a sentence and urged the lawyers to attempt to reach an agreement on whether the offence was an isolated one.

Photo by Stocks
Source: files from Castanet

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