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Portuguese man fined $1 for harassing swimming deer off B.C.'s coast

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September 03, 2015 - 9:30 AM

TERRACE, B.C. - A Portuguese man has been fined $1 by a British Columbia court and ordered to donate $5,000 to a wildlife trust for hitting a swimming deer on the head off the province's northwest coast.

Rodolfo Lopes, previously misidentified in court documents as Martins-Lopes, pleaded guilty in Terrace provincial court on Wednesday to one count of harassing wildlife with a motor vehicle.

The Crown stayed a Criminal Code charge of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal.

Judge Terence Wright ordered Lopes to donate the $5,000, money he paid in bail, to the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund and also prohibited him from approaching wildlife for the next two years.

The money will be allocated to conservation efforts in the Kitimat region.

Lopes did not return from Portugal for the hearing and was represented in court by Vancouver lawyer Don Sorochan.

Crown counsel Corinne Baerg said Lopes was a supervisor for one of the subcontractors working on the multibillion-dollar modernization of Rio Tinto's smelter in Kitimat and he hired a fishing guide to celebrate the end of the project and his planned wedding.

After a day of fishing in May, Lopes and five others were on a boat returning to Kitimat, when they spotted a deer swimming in Douglas Channel, said Baerg.

The charter operator ran the boat along side the deer, and Baerg said that's when Lopes hit the animal on the head with what was described as a jig or gaff in attempt to haul it on board.

Baerg said the deer freed itself, swam to shore and disappeared into the bush.

Conservation officers learned about the incident from Kitimat residents, and one of the men on the boat voluntarily surrendered a video of the incident, while other evidence was secured through a search warrant, said Baerg.

Lopes was arrested, jailed because he was not a Canadian resident, and was granted bail and allowed to return to Portugal, she said.

Sorochan said his client didn't know Canadian hunting and wildlife laws and depended on the "advice of his professional guide."

He said the incident was "a naive impulse" by a man who was trying to be macho in an unfamiliar setting.

Wright called a joint-sentencing submission by the prosecution and defence an "appropriate penalty."

Andreas Handl, who runs Kitimat's Kingfish Westcoast Adventures, is scheduled to appear in a Kitimat court on Thursday morning.

He is charged under the B.C. Wildlife Act with harassing wildlife with a motor vehicle and hunting wildlife while swimming, as well as causing unnecessary pain and suffering under the Criminal Code.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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