Submitted by Sask Environment
A Gronlid man recently pleaded guilty in Melfort Provincial Court to charges stemming from a five-year undercover investigation into illegal wildlife trafficking.
In 2014, Ministry of Environment conservation officers received information that an individual was buying and selling large numbers of wild elk, moose and deer antlers without the proper permits in place. Officers proceeded to follow up on the tip and inspected a yard site near Gronlid, located 27 km northeast of Melfort. They had a discussion with the owner about the legality of buying and selling sets of wild antlers at that time.
During the course of the investigation, the individual willingly purchased antlers from undercover conservation officers on numerous occasions.
In Saskatchewan, A Sale of Wildlife Permit is required to sell most animal parts. However, big game antlers that have been separated from the skull can be sold without a permit, but only if the animal was taken with a valid hunting licence and the tag accompanies the antlers. Shed antlers can be sold without a permit.
In November 2018, officers executed a search warrant and located 314 antlers, plus 19 complete sets of antlers and horns from wild elk, moose, white-tailed and mule deer, as well as five African species. Several firearms were seized during the search due to unsafe storage, including two loaded firearms.
Randall Wehrkamp, aged 64, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of wildlife, possession of wildlife for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking in wildlife, improper record keeping and firearms-related charges. Wehrkamp received a total of $36,500 in fines, which have been paid in full, and a five-year hunting suspension.
In addition, the court ordered that Wehrkamp must not sell, transfer or move antlers without providing notice to a conservation officer for the next five years to ensure compliance with the Wildlife Act and Regulations.
Two firearms and all the seized antlers and horns were forfeited to the Crown. Wehrkamp was also placed on 12 months’ probation. The probation conditions include a $200 charitable donation to Ducks Unlimited Canada, submitting to a search of any residence and out-buildings by conservation officers without warrant, and submitting to an inspection of his residence to ensure adequate storage for firearms by March 20.
He is also prohibited from possessing any firearm, cross-bow, ammunition or explosive substance for a period of one year.
If you suspect wildlife, fisheries, forestry or environmental violations, please call your local Ministry of Environment office, Saskatchewan’s toll-free Turn in Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) line at 1-800-667-7561 or #5555 for SaskTel cellular subscribers. Violations can also be reported online at www.saskatchewan.ca/tipp. You may be eligible for cash rewards from the SaskTip Reward Program. Callers can remain anonymous.