8 people from La Ronge given more than $11K in fines after tip to poaching hotline

Eight people from the La Ronge area have been fined a total of more than $11,000 after being charged with several wildlife offences connected with the illegal marketing of fish.

2-year investigation leads to charges connected with illegal fishing after tip from the public

An investigation that led to charges against eight people from the La Ronge area began with a call to the province's poaching hotline, said a conservation officer. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Eight people from the La Ronge, Sask., area have been fined a total of more than $11,000 after being charged with several wildlife offences connected with the illegal marketing of fish.

The charges stem from a two-year undercover operation by provincial conservation officers and the Ministry of Environment's special investigation unit, the province said in a media release Tuesday.

The investigation began with a call to the province's poaching hotline, said conservation officer Kevin Harrison.

"Back in 2015, someone phoned in to the Turn In Poachers line about these individuals selling illegal fish and wildlife," Harrison said.

"The information that the members of the public provide for us is invaluable. Some of these cases would go unsolved. We rely heavily on the public to help us out."

After a two-year investigation and three separate operations, conservation officers charged the eight individuals.

In August 2017, a 34-year-old man was fined $3,000 and charged with marketing fishing on multiple occasions. He was also given a three-year probation and ordered to do six school presentation on conservation, environmental protection and traditional harvesting practices.

In September 2017, two La Ronge residents, ages 70 and 56, were charged with marketing fish on multiple occasions and trafficking wildlife. They were fined $1,510 and $2,700 respectively, and were both given a five-year suspension from purchasing commercial fishing licences.

In May 2018, conservation officers charged and fined a 62-year-old man with fish trafficking, along with aiding and abetting fishing during closed times. He received a $500 fine for the violation.

Four other La Ronge residents voluntary paid a total of $3,400 in fines, and were each given a one-year suspension from purchasing commercial angling licence.

Every year the Turn in Poachers tip line receives about a thousand calls giving tips about fishing, wildlife and environmental offences, a conservation officer said.

The phone line is available 24/7 at 1-800-667-7561, and tips can also be submitted online.

Callers who provide information leading to a conviction may be eligible for a reward up to a $2,000.