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West coast rabbit hunters fined for using illegal snares

Justice
Justice

It’s been about 10 years since the provincial government banned the use of stainless steel wire in rabbit snares, allowing only ones made of 22-guage brass wire and six-strand picture cord.

Yet every year there’s always some hunters who end up before the courts because they decide to set illegal snares — either using the banned stainless steel wire or the wrong gauge size of the allowable brass wire.

Two men from the west coast men pleaded guilty to doing just that, in two separate incidents, in provincial court in Corner Brook on Tuesday morning.

James Bannister, 59, of Corner Brook was charged in November after fish and wildlife officers on patrol in the White Bay area noticed snares set with two-gauge brass wire and stainless steel.

The officers spoke with Bannister, who acknowledged he had set some illegal snares. He was charged with breaching Section 28 of the Wildlife Act and 13 snares were seized — 10 stainless steel and three brass ones made from the wrong gauge.

Robert Brake, 64, of Gillams was also charged in November with breaching Section 28 of the act after officers on patrol in the Taylor’s Brook Road area observed 10-12 illegal stainless steel snares.

Officers set up surveillance of the snares and approached Brake when he showed up to check then.

In both cases provincial Crown attorney Adam Sparkes said the change from stainless steel to brass wire or picture cord was done as a conservation measure to protect the pine marten population.

Stainless steel snares or those made out of a smaller gauge brass wire don’t allow the pine marten to escape.

He noted that some hunters say the approved snares don’t work as well, but people have to follow the rules.

Judge Kymil Howe fined both men $150 after entering convictions on the charges.

Bannister indicated he had no problem paying the fine to which Howe asked him if he’d have no problem changing snares.

“I’ve already done that,” was his reply.

Brake said it was the first time he had set snares in a few years and was just being stupid when he used the illegal wire.

It was noted that Brake was also ticketed for having a loaded rifle on his ATV, and paid a fine of $97.50, and given a warning for not wearing a helmet.

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