By Shurtz, Delon on May 28, 2020.
The sentencing of two men who illegally shot and killed a grizzly bear, then tried to hide the evidence, has been adjourned until the fall.
The Crown and defence were scheduled Wednesday in Lethbridge provincial court to set a date to sentence Jeffery Edison Hambrook and Gary Edgar Gilson. However, the matter was brought forward previously and adjourned until October.
Both men were charged with offences under the Criminal Code and Wildlife Act following a hunting trip west of Claresholm, where a bear was shot and hidden, and a fellow hunter was threatened to prevent him from reporting the shooting to authorities.
During a court hearing Jan. 6 in Fort Macleod, Hambrook pleaded guilty to a charge under the Wildlife Act of hunting out of season – as a protected species there is no hunting season for grizzly bears – and to charges under the Criminal Code of assault and uttering threats in relation to property.
Gilson pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of wildlife, theft under $5,000 and uttering threats in relation to property.
Crown prosecutor Michael Fox explained the men were camping at a designated campsite Nov. 2, 2018 when a fellow hunter, Maxim Krekhovetski of Calgary, shot a whitetail deer, brought it into camp and hung it next to a deer already hanging from a meat pole about 50 metres away.
During the night a grizzly bear tore off a chunk of the first deer, and hauled down Krekhovetski’s deer and dragged it into the bush. The hunter found his deer the next morning some distance in the woods, dragged it back to camp and hung it higher on the meat pole.
About 7:40 that evening, a light was activated by a motion sensor, and trail cameras caught the bear trying to get at the meat. At 10 p.m. the bear returned, but Hambrook and Gilson were hiding nearby. Shortly afterward Hambrook shot and killed the bear, and in response to a query by Krekhovetski, claimed he only fired a warning shot.
However, the next morning Krekhovetski found the grizzly bear, took a picture of it, then began arguing with Hambrook while taking pictures of vehicle licence plates. While taking pictures of Gilson’s licence plate, Krekhovetski and Hambrook began fighting and Hambrook managed to pin Krekhovetski to the ground. When Krekhovetski refused to delete the photos from his cellphone Gilson took it from his pocket, but couldn’t unlock it.
Gilson, who was holding an axe, threatened to smash the phone unless Krekhovetski gave him the password to access the phone. After other campers yelled for them to stop, Hambrook got off Krekhovetski and his phone was eventually returned to him. The next day, after he returned to his home in Calgary, Krekhovetski reported the incident.
Although the Crown has not recommended a sentence, defence intends to ask the judge for a conditional discharge on the Criminal Code offences.
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