One of the men convicted and fined $5,000 for illegally shooting ducks and then posting video of the carnage on YouTube lashed out after being sentenced Monday, insisting the matter had been blown out of proportion.
David Fraser, 30, is originally from Toronto and moved to Cudworth, Sask., earlier this summer.
Fraser, his 23-year-old brother, James, and another man, Jeremy Rowlands, pleaded guilty two days after being charged with violating a variety of hunting laws. The three were portrayed in a disturbing four-minute video, posted on YouTube, which shows them firing at birds in ponds and laughing uproariously.
Provincial court in Saskatoon was told that 43 rounds were fired in total.
'Hunter associations and groups decided to make us their poster boy to try to make themselves look better.' —David Fraser, convicted of illegally shooting migratory birds
Late Monday, outside court, a contrite David Fraser told reporters that his actions were stupid and that he was sorry for what happened.
He added, however, that the matter had taken on a life of its own through the internet and that commentators, in his view, took advantage of the circumstances.
"What we didn't appreciate," Fraser said, "was the fact that various hunter associations and groups decided to make us their poster boy to try to make themselves look better."
Fraser then lashed out at the hunting enthusiasts: "The fact of the matter is, in a month from now they're going to be slaughtering thousands of birds and deer and all sorts of other animals and nobody seems to care about that."
Fraser conceded that he knew nothing about hunting laws and learned about poaching and gun safety through the experience.
"I had no idea you could only hunt migratory birds at a certain time. This has been really educational," Fraser said, adding that he had no intention of ever hunting again. As part of the sentence, the men have been prohibited from acquiring a hunting licence for three years.
Learned power of internet
Fraser said he also learned a lot about the power of the internet and about exercising extra caution when posting to social networking sites.
"Because anyone that puts anything on the internet, you're exposing yourselves and you can get yourself into trouble like we did," Fraser said. "It's embarrassing, what I did, and I'm very ashamed of the way I acted."
When asked by a reporter whether he thought the matter had been blown out of proportion, Fraser responded, "Absolutely."
"What happened was severe," he added. "A few ducks were killed and that's tragic. But this has been getting coast to coast and international coverage when endangered species are being killed everywhere, all over the planet."
He said there should be more attention paid to species at risk.
"Animals that, you know, should be getting a lot more attention than a few ducks. That's how I feel about it."
"I did what I did and I'll pay for my crime," Fraser concluded. "We all learn from this, and we move forward. That's what I'm hoping. I'm not going to run away from what I did."
Early on Tuesday evening, visitors to the YouTube website discovered that the video had been removed from the internet.