Iglulik man who violated caribou hunting ban won’t be convicted

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An Iglulik man who breached a caribou hunting ban was ill-informed by someone in a position of trust and therefore won’t be criminally convicted, a judge has decided.


Chief Justice Neil Sharkey has found that a criminal conviction isn’t necessary in the case of an Iglulik Ranger who contravened a temporary caribou hunting ban in 2015. NNSL file photo

The accused was charged in June 2015 and he pleaded not guilty. Although he admitted to killing a caribou, he insisted that he mistakenly believed the temporary prohibition on caribou hunting had been lifted.

The man, 22 years old at the time he was charged under the Nunavut Wildlife Act, was out on a Ranger patrol when he spotted the caribou. His patrol sergeant made a radio call to the Igloolik Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO) and said a board member, who was an elder, informed him the caribou hunting ban was no longer in effect.

The accused told the court, “I would not have thought to harvest that caribou if I was not given permission.”

Chief Justice Neil Sharkey concluded that the man harvested the caribou based on erroneous information and therefore had a valid defence known as “officially induced error.” Sharkey consequently decided that a stay of proceedings is warranted, according to a decision circulated by the Nunavut Court of Justice on Thursday.

“(This) case falls within such an exceptional combination of circumstances. (The accused) received information that the harvesting ban had been lifted when he was physically and geographically isolated from any other authority or possible source of information. His immediate source of information – his Ranger Sergeant with control of communications to the outside world – was someone he was sworn to trust and obey. And the original source of the information was both an elder and a HTO board member,” Sharkey stated.