Saskatchewan YouTube duck shooters fined thousands of dollars

Saskatoon — The Canadian Press Last updated on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009 09:48AM EDT

Three young men who filmed themselves gleefully blasting ducks out of a Saskatchewan pond and posted the video on YouTube were fined thousands of dollars yesterday.

David Fraser, James Fraser and Jeremy Rowlands pleaded guilty in a Saskatoon court to breaking several federal and provincial wildlife laws in an incident that sparked widespread public outrage.

The video, which was shown in court, shows the men cheering each other on as at least two of them use rifles to shoot the ducks and ducklings.

Provincial Court Judge Doug Agnew called their actions "stupid, reckless and irresponsible," and fined the Frasers $5,000 each and Mr. Rowlands $6,000. He also ordered them to turn over the rifles.

The men stood side by side in court and apologized for their behaviour. They pleaded guilty to unlawful hunting, hunting out of season, discharging a firearm from a vehicle and leaving edible game to be wasted.

The maximum penalty is $100,000 for the provincial offences and $300,000 under federal laws, with the possibility of six months in jail.

Darrell Crabbe, executive director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, said hunters were outraged by the case because what the trio did was both illegal and immoral.

"I was disgusted," he said of his reaction to the video. "Those birds were moulting at that time. Of course, the young are unable to fly anyway. It’s all about the ethics in this situation.

"The hunting fraternity in Saskatchewan and other conservationists really jumped on board. It was great to see so many people focused in on this. The ethical hunting community really took this upon themselves to make this right."

Brian Petrar with Environment Canada said the case really had nothing to do with hunting. "It was people using birds as target practice," he said outside court.

An investigation was started last week after the video surfaced. Authorities did not know the location of the shooting but a road sign and blooming fields of canola in the background suggested it was somewhere in Saskatchewan or Alberta.

The video prompted a flood of tips from the public.

"The response from our standpoint was fantastic in that the public were obviously outraged by what they saw," Mr. Petrar said, adding that it was calls from tip lines that led to the arrest of the three men on Saturday.

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