06/03/2016 11:32 EDT | Updated 06/04/2017 05:12 EDT

Admitted Poacher Has No Place In Canada's Top Rodeo Association

Todd Korol / Reuters
Cody Cassidy of Donalda, Alberta wrestles a steer in the Steer Wrestling event during Championship Sunday at the finals of the Calgary Stampede rodeo in Calgary, Alberta, July 12, 2015. REUTERS/Todd Korol

The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association's animal welfare guide states that it "supports the responsible and humane use of animals and believes that all animals utilized in entertainment, industry and sport should be afforded proper care and management."

Presumably this includes the "sport" of hunting, but one of the CPRA's board directors, Cody Cassidy, doesn't seem to afford wildlife "proper care and management." In fact, Mr. Cassidy pleaded guilty to several poaching-related charges in July of last year, according to the Red Deer Advocate.

The charges included hunting without a licence, possession of wildlife and controlled animals, and providing false or misleading information. Mr. Cassidy received a $16,000 fine and a one-year judicial order preventing him from obtaining an outfitting-guide permit.

"Clearly, these are serious offences for someone in a position of responsibility at the CPRA, who should be held to the highest ethical standards."

The presiding judge at Red Deer Provincial Court cited Mr. Cassidy's history of these types of offences, including guiding on private property without permission, failing to post signs in an area of black bear bait, unauthorized hunting and discharging a firearm on private property without permission.

Mr. Cassidy's father, Greg, a champion steer-wrestler, also pleaded guilty to poaching charges in the same case. He was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame just months later.

Cody Cassidy operates Big Knife Outfitters, which takes clients on moose hunts. His father volunteers with the company. The Red Deer Advocate's account of the court case includes a description of the hunt, which aside from the poaching offences, raises concerns about the hunt itself. It states:

"Greg and the client were hunting at one of the Central Alberta locations when they spotted a moose.The client shot the moose with one arrow, which did not kill the moose. Cody joined the hunt and they tracked the moose for three hours. When they caught up with the moose, they shot it with a few more arrows, killing it."

It is difficult to see how this animal could not have suffered during the three hours after it was wounded.

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has written to CPRA president Murry Milan, calling for Mr. Cassidy to be removed from the board. The letter states: "Clearly, these are serious offences for someone in a position of responsibility at the CPRA, who should be held to the highest ethical standards. We find it unacceptable that Mr. Cassidy remains as director on the CPRA board."

Mr. Cassidy, like his father, is a steer-wrestler. Steer-wrestling, a controversial event invented for rodeo in the 1930s, involves a rider jumping from a horse onto the steer and twisting its neck until it falls to the ground. Steers died in the event in 2013 and 2014 at the Calgary Stampede as a result of neck injuries.

The CPRA has attracted recent media attention over a decision by the City of Edmonton not to bid to host the Canadian Finals Rodeo, leaving the CPRA without a home for its rodeo championships after 2017. VHS has called on Canadian cities not to host the event, pointing to polls showing that a majority of Canadians are opposed to using animals in rodeos.

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Calgary Stampede 2015