June 20th, 2024

Pair fined for shooting Great Horned Owl


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on October 27, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Two men who shot an owl just because they thought it would be fun, have been fined and their hunting privileges temporarily suspended.

Frankie Tesson Klassen, 23, and Wilhelm Harder Reimer, 19, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lethbridge provincial court to a charge of hunting wildlife unlawfully, and they were fined $500 each for shooting the Great Horned Owl as it sat on a power pole.

The men were driving along a gravel road about 10 p.m. on June 23 when they noticed the owl. Klassen stopped the vehicle and Reimer used Klassen’s .22 calibre rifle to shoot the bird – a protected species – then shot it several more times. The men left the owl on the ground and drove off.

A nearby resident witnessed the shooting and called Fish and Wildlife, and an officer retrieved the owl and obtained a licence plate number from the witness. The officer went to Klassen’s home, got a statement from the accused, and seized the rifle.

Wildlife officers returned to the site of the shooting the following day and found the bullet casings, and noticed the shooting occurred only 85 metres from the residence of the witness, which is also illegal. Reimer also pleaded guilty to one count under the Wildlife Act of discharging a firearm within 183 metres of an occupied building, and was fined an additional $100.

Crown Prosecutor Bruce Ainscough had recommended Reimer be fined $1,000 for shooting the bird and $500 for discharging the gun near a residence, and pointed out the offences are aggravating because the owl is a protected species and can’t be hunted, and it was shot from the road and near a residence. The bird was also left on the road.

“They indicated in their statement that the owl was shot ‘for fun’,” Ainscough said. “(They were) not looking for food, or taxidermy purposes, and the owl was left at the location.” Ainscough pointed out the maximum fine for hunting wildlife for which there is no open season is $50,000.

Judge Timothy Hironaka disagreed with the Crown’s recommended fine amounts, and said the two men should be equally fined for shooting the owl since they were both involved.

“It’s pretty clear they were both ad idem,” Hironaka said. “This was a joint venture. These boys were in this together, equally culpable in my view.”

Hironaka lowered the $500 fine against Reimer to $100 and suggested Klassen should pay half the fine. He also gave them credit for cooperating with authorities, expressing remorse and taking responsibility for their actions.

“Without their significant cooperation, they wouldn’t be here. In my view, my hat’s off to them.”

Hironaka suggested the men were in trouble more because of their stupidity, than a desire to break the law.

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