North

Alaska bear baiter facing wildlife charges in Yukon

Caught baiting bears, Ronald Martin, 72, has been banned from ever guiding in the state of Alaska again. Now he’s facing charges relating to illegal sheep and moose hunts in Yukon.

'He was willing to do whatever needed to be done... to take the animals he wanted'

Roland Martin, 72, is accused of illegal sheep and moose hunts in the Yukon, stemming from hunts in the Kluane Park region. Charges against him include federal violations for smuggling game back to Alaska. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Yukon wildlife authorities are proceeding with charges against an Alaska hunting guide who’s accused of poaching game in Canada.

Roland Martin, 72, is accused of more than 30 cross border violations. The charges stem from a joint United States-Canada investigation called “Operation Bruin.”

Martin was a big game guide in Haines, Alaska for over 30 years, but American authorities have already ensured Martin will never work again in Alaska.

This October, he was convicted in a federal court in Juneau on five felony counts relating to illegal hunting and importing wildlife.

"Mr. Martin would bait brown bears, subsequently use his aircraft to aid hunters in taking game that was not perceived as fair chase," says Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt, who prosecuted the case.

Charges were laid in 2012 after undercover operations documented more than a dozen cases of bear baiting, and scouting by airplane for goat and sheep hunts.

"He was willing to do whatever needed to be done either to make his clients happy who were paying him or to take the animals he wanted to take," Schmidt says.

Martin's sentence includes a lifetime ban from guiding in Alaska. He’s also been ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and forfeit all his hunting equipment, including a PA-18 Piper Supercub airplane.

Schmidt says authorities had been keeping an eye on Martin for a long time.

"Oddly enough when I was a state prosecutor I have prosecuted Mr. Martin on several occasions."

Martin is also accused of illegal sheep and moose hunts in the Yukon, stemming from hunts in the Kluane Park region. Charges include federal violations for smuggling game back to Alaska.

Martin is next scheduled to appear in Yukon Territorial Court in January.

17 Clients also facing charges

Prosecutors in Yukon and Alberta have also laid charges against 17 of Martin's Canadian hunting clients.

Two have already been convicted.

In March, Lyle Whitmarsh was fined $4,000 by an Alberta provincial court for illegally possessing and importing a brown bear into Canada, in violation of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

In October, John Whitmarsh (Lyle’s brother) was fined $15,000 after being found guilty of two counts of possessing and importing a brown bear into Canada.

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