Alaskan fined $10,000 in Canada for shooting sheep

Man fined $8,000 under Yukon law, the rest under international law

Posted: Friday, December 24, 2004

WHITEHORSE, Yukon - Canadian authorities have fined a North Pole man $10,000 for illegally shooting a sheep just inside the border.

Nicholas Olson, 47, was among two Americans fined in the case.

Deputy territorial judge René Foisy ordered Olson to pay about $8,000 for one charge under the Yukon Wildlife Act of illegally hunting in the territory in August 2003. The other half of the fine was for one count under international wildlife laws of illegally exporting the sheep into Alaska.

The judge also ordered Olson's hunting partner, 44-year-old Mark Wattenberger, of South Prairie, Wash., to pay about $4,000 for one count of illegally exporting the sheep into Alaska.

Tony Grabowski, head of enforcement for the territorial Department of the Environment, said Wednesday an outfitter in the area came upon the remains of a fresh sheep kill. He reported his find, as he thought it to be suspiciously close to the border, Grabowski said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska was engaged to investigate. Almost immediately, authorities flew into the area, where they interviewed Olson and Wattenberger, who were in possession of the sheep.

The men have pleaded guilty.

Whitehorse attorney Keith Parkkari, who represented the men, said his clients cooperated with authorities. They believed they were still in Alaska when they shot the sheep, the lawyer said.

The sign alerting travelers of the Yukon-Alaska border is actually 765 yards inside the Yukon, Parkkari said. The sheep was shot about 650 yards from the border.

While his clients did see the sign, they did not go up and read it, he said. Parkkari said Olson and Wattenberger, in addition to believing they were still in Alaska, did assume responsibility for their mistake with their guilty pleas.

Grabowski said he doesn't know how any hunter could miss the border signs - particularly sheep hunters, who generally pack around spotting scopes or other glassware that permit them to see clearly for long distances.

Of the $12,000 in fines, about $8,000 will go to the Fish and Wildlife Service's enforcement branch. Another $4,000 will go to the conservation fund established under the Yukon Wildlife Act, and about $2.50 will go to the court.



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