A man who shot a pregnant doe out of season with a crossbow is facing jail time and a hefty fine.
Jason Kevin Thurston, 37, pleaded guilty to killing wildlife out of season, killing wildlife during prohibited hours and possession of a firearm contrary to a court order Wednesday in Penticton Provincial Court.
On April 16, 2015 a man observed a dead mule deer with a wound leaking blood on Spiller Road, noting a loud vehicle nearby. The man called police who arrived to observe the dead doe as well as a deer fetus, as and part of an arrow shaft with blood and deer hair on it.
Police were able to associate the vehicle with an Edward Richard Neave, who has a trial date set on May 13 on similar charges.
Police located Thurston and Neave, with Thurston initially denying any involvement and Neave declining to comment to the officers.
Thurston later admitted shooting the deer with a crossbow and attempted to load the deer in a truck but was spooked by a neighbour.
Thurston was on a 10-year firearm prohibition at the time for a prior charge of careless use and storage of a firearm, as well Thurston did not have a hunting license. Crown said Thurston was under the influence of alcohol as well.
The poaching occurred out of season, and during prohibited hours at 12:21 a.m.
A joint submission on sentencing was a $5,000 fine and 60 days in jail, to be served intermittently.
Crown counsel Mallory Treddenick noted the value of a deer to the economy in the context of the economic impact of a hunter staying in town and paying licensing fees — between $2,000 and $5,000 estimated by the Fish and Wildlife Ministry staff.
“Although it seems sort of trivial they do have a value, each individual deer, and the fact that this doe was pregnant speaks to the conservation concerns of each doe deer,” Treddenick said. “The reason for the season is to give the species longevity and given this deer was killed while it was pregnant was a significant impact on that conservation concern.”
Defence counsel Tyrone Duerr said that a local hunting store has posted Thurston’s picture and the spotlight from media coverage has been difficult for him.
Duerr said Neave was without an income and looking to feed his children when Thurston had joined him on the late night hunting trip.
“The interesting thing, your honour, is they likely would have qualified for an exemption for food purposes. That would have eliminated probably the most serious part of these charges, but unfortunately Mr. Thurston was unaware he could apply for the exemption.”
Duerr said it’s not the first time he had heard of a client being unaware of the possibility of an exemption.
“It’s interesting that lawyers and judges know about these provisions, most people in the general public don’t,” Duerr said.
Thurston apologized for his actions to the court.
“I can assure you that it’s never going to happen again, it’s a terrible thing and I admit what I did was wrong,” Thurston told the court. “I never thought of my actions the whole way through, how this could affect people that I love and myself. I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done.”
This being his second firearms-related offence, Thurston received a lifetime firearms prohibition.
“So basically, your hunting days are over,” Sinclair said.
A large portion of Thurston’s fine is going towards the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, supporting fish and wildlife conservation projects in B.C. Thurston is also on probation until the completion of his intermittent sentence.