Three Lake Country men have been slapped with a combined $11,000 in fines related to the poaching of four moose in two separate incidents in Vernon and Revelstoke.
Justice Ellen Burdett levied the fines for what is commonly known as “party hunting” in Kelowna Provincial Court Thursday, April 8.
According to court documents, Terry Knooihuizen and Christopher Gross of Lake Country went bull moose hunting in November 2017 in the Okanagan region. Knooihuizen held a limited entry hunting authorization at the time, allowing him to hunt one antlered moose. Gross did not possess a valid hunting licence at the time.
A general open spike-fork moose season was in effect in the area at the time. Spike-fork moose are defined as having no more than two tines on one antler.
Knooihuizen killed a spike-fork bull moose 27 km northeast of Vernon. Instead of immediately cancelling his moose species licence as required by law, he called a friend, Timothy McCool of Lake Country, who had a valid licence.
While waiting to meet McCool, Knooihuizen carried on hunting and killed a second bull moose, exceeding his limit. McCool came to the kill site to let his friend to use his valid hunting tag on the moose, which he didn’t kill himself. The two friends then loaded both animals into McCool’s vehicle.
In October 2019, Knooihuizen and Gross were at it again — this time 17 km southwest of Revelstoke.
Court documents show that on this occasion Knooihuizen again killed two bull moose, exceeding the one-moose provincial bag limit. He again tried to cover the second illegal kill by using a friend’s tag — this time Gross’s. The two moose were again killed in spike-fork season, during which a compulsory inspection of antlers is required under the Wildlife Act. Knooihuizen discarded both sets of antlers.
Knooihuizen was fined a total of $7,000 for the two instances in which he exceeded his bag limit and used another person’s tag to cover up an illegal kill. McCool and Gross each received a $2,000 fine for their roles in the cover-ups.
The fines are payable to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
Knooihuizen was banned from hunting, attending a hunt or possessing wildlife for two years; McCool and Gross received the same conditions but with one-year bans. All three offenders will also have to re-take the province’s hunter education program.
“Poaching is a reckless activity with a blatant disregard for wildlife and public safety. The COS hopes these fines will help deter others from this unlawful activity,” said Vernon Conservation Officer Ken Owens, who served as an informant in the two cases.
Owens urged the public to report all hunting violations to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line: 1-877-952-7277.