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Man charged for trafficking caribou

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 31 2010

HAY RIVER - The case of a Fort Resolution man charged with trafficking wildlife may become an aboriginal rights issue.

Gregory Henry Lafferty of Fort Resolution is facing an NWT Wildlife Act charge for selling caribou.

Lafferty did not enter a plea on the charge when he appeared in territorial court on May 27, and the matter was set over to July 21.

No specifics of the charge were presented to the court.

Shortly after the charge was laid on March 18, News/North contacted Lafferty but he wouldn't discuss the matter.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), which laid the charge, is also declining to comment.

However, Chief Roy Fabian of the Hay River Reserve is accusing the government of "going a little bit too far," in its response.

Fabian raised the issue with ENR Minister Michael Miltenberger during the annual general meeting of the NWT Association of Communities on May 14.

Fabian said he was "disturbed" a treaty band member without a hunting licence had been charged for selling the meat of two caribou to the Nats'ejee K'eh Treatment Centre on the Hay River Reserve.

"It's pretty hard for me to swallow that," he said.

Fabian said his understanding is a territorial wildlife officer had gone to the treatment centre - on reserve land - and confiscated the caribou meat.

"He didn't really have jurisdiction to do that, but he did it," said the chief, who said the reserve is federal jurisdiction.

Fabian also expressed concern about an aboriginal person being charged for selling traditional food.

"For me, I think it's going a little bit too far," the chief said.

Noting the matter is the subject of legal proceedings, Miltenberger did not have much to say in response.

The minister said ENR received a complaint, investigated and laid a charge after much consideration.

"I wouldn't read more into this than this single case," Miltenberger said.

The charge falls under Section 54 (1) of the Wildlife Act.

That section states, "Subject to this act and the regulations, no person shall produce, buy, sell, trade, barter, gift or receive as a gift (a) a manufactured product; (b) the meat or any other part of wildlife; or (c) the nest, egg or part of the egg of any wildlife bird."

A little later in the act, it reads, "A person who holds or is eligible to hold a general hunting licence may buy, sell, barter, gift or receive as a gift the meat of game from or to another person who holds or is eligible to hold a general hunting licence."

Anyone convicted of trafficking wildlife under the act is subject to a fine of $750, plus a surcharge of $112.

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