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Poachers deserve nothing but contempt


Like so many other Albertans, I grew up in a family where hunting was a regular activity, a tradition.

My father was a small game hunter — grouse and ptarmigan all came home hanging upside down, ready to be plucked and frozen.

I’ve been out hunting only a few times and not for years. The last time, I wasn’t actually hunting but I was with friends in New Brunswick who were trying to nab a moose. No luck that day but walking through the woods on a cool fall day — whether you see game or not — is always enjoyable.

My brothers continued to hunt as adults and taught their children the same. Only one brother remains an active hunter and he goes for big game — deer, moose, elk. He’s the “wild man” in the family and probably spends more time outdoors in nature than his seven siblings combined.

To be honest, hunting is not for me but I don’t begrudge those who do hunt — as long as they follow the rules. Sadly, sometimes they don’t. And when that happens, they cast a black shadow over all hunters.

One recent case is about as horrible as it gets.

Everyone should be disgusted, especially those who do hunt within the rules — the real hunters.

A man — a poacher, a criminal — illegally shot and killed a sow grizzly bear and her cub off the Forestry Trunk Road about 200 km northwest of Rocky Mountain House three years ago.

Frank Kucher was caught because an anonymous tipster reported seeing the head of a grizzly bear in his garage. Fish and Wildlife officers went to Kucher’s home, seized the head and claws of a sow grizzly. The next day, they located the carcasses of the two grizzlies along the Pembina River south of Robb.

Kucher was only sentenced last week. He received five months in jail, a $10,000 fine, and is banned from hunting for nine years after being convicted of two counts of hunting wildlife out of season, two counts of abandoning the carcasses, and one count of unlawful possession of wildlife.

Of course, so many of us wonder: Why should he ever be allowed to hunt again? He killed two endangered animals.

Grizzlies were declared threatened in 2010 — the same year as the Kucher kill — under Alberta’s Wildlife Act. There are estimated to be fewer than 700 grizzlies left in Alberta and hunting them is no longer allowed.

Without igniting that whole debate over grizzly population numbers and how to manage them, it remains that poaching should be a concern for all Albertans, whether you hunt, ranch or just love seeing wildlife.

As recently as September, a grizzly bear was illegally shot and killed north of Nordegg. It was one of three killed in the same manner. The bear was part of a grizzly research program. Their deaths were discovered when the electronic collars they were wearing showed the bears weren’t moving anymore.

Recently, west of Rimbey, a youth and two adults were allegedly found to be hunting at night. The three, facing 14 charges now, were allegedly hunting with a high-powered loaded rifle from a vehicle, and shooting at elk near a residence, using a spotlight to shine on the animals. They were also drinking, police claim.

According to the RCMP, this incident occurred only 1.6 km from where two large bull moose were shot and left to rot last November. That case remains unsolved.

One has to wonder — what are these people like when they’re not out senselessly slaughtering wildlife.

Scary.

Mary-Ann Barr is Advocate assistant city editor. She can be reached by email at barr@reddeeradvocate or by phone at 403-314-4332.

 
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