Fears of gunplay surround the latest Freemen-on-the-Land incident being investigated by Alberta police.
A group of men, who describe themselves as sovereign citizens and not bound by government, have been occupying provincial lands south of Grande Prairie since June and have refused eviction orders, prompting the RCMP to urge caution and for people to avoid confrontation with the group, the Edmonton Journal reports
“My understanding is that there was two of them, but there may be more people,” said a department official, who asked to remain anonymous.
“It appears they may have tried to build their own structure and may have taken over someone else’s structure.”
Trappers have been confronted, intimidated, had their cabins occupied and even reportedly lost at least one trap line to the men, the CBC reports.
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Brian Bildson, of the Grande Prairie Trappers' Association, told the CBC trappers work in the wilderness alone and have to face down weather, predators and harsh conditions but, "We don't sign on for a bunch of crazy guys running through the bush, thinking they can declare a nation out there.”
Hunters in the area said they have seen the men carrying firearms, while shots have been heard in the middle of the night near cabins, "definitely trying to scare him, you know,” trapper Albert Steinwand told the CBC.
According to the Edmonton Sun, the Freemen-on-the-Land members have now taken over several trappers' cabins in the Misery Mountain and Karr Creek areas - a hive of activity for the trapping, logging and energy industries - and promise to defend the cabins and land, "with all necessary force."
According to canoe.ca, as many as three trap lines have been taken over by the group and Alberta forestry staff have been told to avoid the area.
Mounties have now moved in to investigate.
This latest incident involving the Freemen-on-the-Land movement comes one week after another self-described 'sovereign citizen' refused to be evicted from a Calgary rental property after he claimed the duplex was now an embassy.
Andreas Pirelli made headlines when his elderly landlady Rebekah Caverhill went public with her story and broke down in front of the country's press, the result of a year-long-struggle with her tenant.
After failed attempts to get Pirelli out of the home, the Freeman-on-the-Land was finally kicked out of the home when police got involved after learning Pirelli - who is also known as Mario Antonacci - was wanted in Quebec on similar grounds and for allegedly assaulting his then elderly landlady.
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