Alberta outfitting company issued almost $79K in fines, ban from industry after fish and wildlife investigation

A rifle owner checks the sight of his rifle at a hunting camp property in rural Ontario west of Ottawa in this Sept. 15, 2010 file photo. Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Two guides, an outfitting company and its owner have been slapped with a total of $78,975 in fines and a ban on being involved in the outfitting/guiding industry after an investigation by Alberta Fish and Wildlife.

The investigation suggested that, in 2014 and 2015, Rugged Outfitting Inc. conducted guided tours for moose and elk with expired or invalid licences.

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In a Facebook post, fish and wildlife said the company would use archery-only licences during the general season and guided some hunts through the wrong zone.

“Unlawful hunts by professional outfitter-guides have a negative impact on the reputation of the legitimate outfitting industry in Alberta,” the post read. “Outfitter-guides hold a heightened responsibility as professionals to ensure the hunts they conduct are lawful.”

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Over two trials, Rugged Outfitting Inc. owner Richard Bunnage was found guilty of seven counts of hunting wildlife without a licence and six counts of hunting wildlife during a closed season.

He has been banned from being involved in the outfitting/guiding industry for 20 years and was fined $54,400. The company was also fined $11,500.

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Lloyd Chalifoux, a guide with the company, pleaded guilty to hunting wildlife without a licence, guiding on private land without permission and trafficking in wildlife. He received $8,075 in fines and a two-year outfitting/guiding ban.

Michael Larson, also a guide, pleaded guilty to hunting wildlife without a licence and providing guiding services to a non-resident alien without an outfitter-guide permit. He was fined $5,000.

Alberta big game outfitter guides are given a limited number of licences that allow them to guide hunters to clients from outside the province for a profit. Those licences are only valid in specific geographic regions of the province and at specific times of the year.

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“These regulations are in place to ensure hunting is sustainable, and that big game populations are not devastated,” the Facebook post read.

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Alberta Fish and Wildlife said many of the hunters who came to Alberta to participate in these hunts were from multiple jurisdictions. Enforcement agencies from across the United States were involved in the investigation.

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