Inuvik man fined for poaching polar bear in 2018

Claims of self defence were through out by judge during trial

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An Inuvik man was fined $1,500 for killing a polar bear without a tag last year.

In NWT Territorial Court in Yellowknife, Aug. 26, 31-year-old Justin Elias was found guilty of killing the bear without a tag and for keeping the bear’s pelt.

On top of the fine, Elias has been ordered to complete 15 hours of community service and has been put on a year of supervised probation.

Court heard Elias was hunting in 2018 when, following a successful caribou kill, he and his friend Merrick Allen took their boat to Garry Island to hunt belugas. When they landed on the shore, they saw a polar bear stand up and take notice.

Elias was keeping watch on the bear for Allen while Allen “scoped for whales” when Allen said he heard several gunshots and found Elias had shot the bear.

During the trial, Elias admitted he knew he should have reported the incident to the the department of Environment and Natural Resources, but wanted to keep the pelt for himself. His claim of self defence was rejected in Judge Gagnon’s guilty verdict after she ruled the danger was “clearly foreseeable to a reasonable observer.”

Under the NWT Wildlife Act, it is illegal to kill a polar bear without a proper tag. Bear kills in self defence situations are required to be reported to ENR and the bears remains must be handed over to the government.

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