B.C. guide outfitter handed hefty fine for luring black bear with pet food, cooking grease

Oliver, B.C., guide outfitter James Wiens is pictured on his website with a bear from a previous hunt. On Monday, Wiens was fined for baiting a black bear with pet food and cooking grease. Courtesy:

An Oliver, B.C., guide outfitter has been handed a hefty fine for baiting a black bear during a hunt he thought was for American tourists.

James Wiens, 51, has received an $18,500 fine, plus he must forfeit the $6,300 earned for the trip.

In November, Wiens, who owns Vaseux Creek Outfitters, pleaded guilty to three offences under the B.C. Wildlife Act, including hunting with bait, feeding dangerous wildlife and hunting from a vehicle.

READ MORE: B.C. wildlife tour company charged after allegedly luring bears with food

Court heard Wiens was the subject of an undercover operation involving Canadian and U.S. wildlife officials.

It was launched in 2016 after the B.C. Conservation Officer Service received a complaint from the public.

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Two wildlife officials from Idaho and Washington state posed as prospective clients interested in a black bear hunt.

The hunt took place in May 2016. The American undercover officers observed Wiens using pet food and cooking grease to lure the bear for the kill.

A bear was shot and killed by the group at one of the baited sites. Wiens used an ATV to recover the carcass.

On Monday, Judge Michelle Daneliuk of the Penticton provincial court didn’t mince words when sentencing Wiens for his actions.

She said baiting the bear resulted in the animal becoming a “sitting duck” and that it wasn’t a hunt but rather a “shooting gallery.”

READ MORE: British Columbians do not know enough about how to behave during wildlife encounters: expert

“This is dishonourable and disgraceful conduct on the part of someone that has been benefiting from the privilege, as licensed by the Province of B.C., to hunt animals for profit throughout his entire adult life,” Daneliuk added during sentencing.

She said Wiens abused his position of trust and put his reputation and livelihood on the line to satisfy the desires of whom he thought were American tourists.

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The bulk of the monetary penalty will be paid to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

Wiens has 24 months to pay the fines. The judge acknowledged it was a significant amount and said Wiens could request an extension at that time if he is unable to pay.

Outside the Penticton courthouse, Wiens declined to comment.

Wiens is still touting a 100 per cent success rate for harvesting a black bear on his website. He charges US$4,000 for a six-day hunting trip and two bears.

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