BRITISH COLUMBIA

Lawyer says authorities trying to embarrass hunter accused of killing sheep in Yukon

02/04/2015 04:23 EST | Updated 04/06/2015 05:59 EDT
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Conservation authorities are trying to discredit and embarrass his client, says a lawyer representing an alleged cross-border poacher accused of lying about where he shot a record-setting Dall sheep.

"These people have made it their life's work to get Mr. Dougan," Kevin Church said.

Abe Dougan was back in provincial court on Wednesday for the continuation of a trial on a dozen poaching charges stemming from a Dall sheep hunt in August 1999.

The hunting guide based in Kamloops, B.C., claims to have killed the sheep in a remote part of the province, where he was entitled to hunt, but is accused of actually killing it in the Yukon.

Dougan's trial is being held in B.C. because that's where he took the sheep for a compulsory inspection after claiming he killed the animal on a mountain range in the province.

It wasn't until 2011, after the kill earned Dougan a spot in the Big Game Records of B.C. book, that Environment Yukon received a tip from someone saying the mountain in the photo was actually in the territory.

Using three-dimensional mapping software, an investigator located a Yukon mountain with similar characteristics to one in the background of Dougan's photo.

In the summer of 2011, investigators flew by helicopter to the site where they claim Dougan bagged the sheep — 18 kilometres north of the Yukon-B.C. border.

They took a photo of the mountain range from the location where they believe Dougan's hunting partner was standing when the trophy photo was taken, court heard.

The two pictures bear striking similarities, including a series of slides in the background and a distinct plateau on a mountain over Dougan's left shoulder.

"They're embarrassing him to Mr. Giles, the person that he's working for," Church said Wednesday of conservation authorities. "They're telling him, 'This guy is a bad guy. You shouldn't deal with him."

Last week, Dougan was charged with three new counts stemming from an unrelated cougar hunt near Williams Lake, B.C., more than a year ago.

Charges against him, along with Brent Giles and Ryan Hartling, include one count each of hunting wildlife within six hours of being airborne and unlawful possession of dead wildlife.

Church said the charges likely wouldn't have been laid if not for the interest in Dougan generated by the Dall sheep case, for which a trial has been ongoing sporadically for over a year.

Church said Wednesday that the Dall sheep charges are not serious enough to warrant the amount of court time they have garnered.

"You have murders, you have accessing of child pornography by people in authority," he said.

"It's not a sexual-assault case, it's the harvest of a sheep."

Church has asked provincial court Judge Stella Frame to toss the Dall sheep charges based on delay. She has not yet ruled on that application.

If convicted, Dougan could lose his B.C. guide licence and be banned from hunting in the province.

Last August, he was convicted in the Yukon on charges that he wasted meat from sheep, caribou and moose killed in 2011 and hunted too soon after being airborne. In that instance, Dougan led a Wyoming man on a hunt for stone sheep.

The American hunter was fined $11,500 and barred from hunting in the Yukon for 10 years.

Dougan was ordered to pay $15,000 in fines and banned from hunting or guiding in the Yukon for 20 years. (Kamloops This Week)