BC man jailed for 'unprovoked' killing of bears on his property | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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BC man jailed for 'unprovoked' killing of bears on his property

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/WildSafeBC - J. Courterus

A BC man will spend a month in jail after he killed two bears on his property with a bow and crossbow, then lied about it to police.

Ryan Owen Millar thought no one saw him, but AirBnB guests next door at his Tofino home were watching the bears in his tree before he took them down with arrows in October 2021, according to a recent Provincial Court of BC decision.

Millar grabbed both a bow and a crossbow when he saw the two black bears climb a tree in his yard that day.

He used an arrow to shoot the cub out of the tree, but used his crossbow to kill it after it hit the ground. Then, he used multiple arrows to injure the sow as it tried to flee. He chased it and killed that bear, too.

The guests next door took photos and called police when they saw him kill the bears.

"When the police arrived at the scene, the accused told them that he knew nothing about any bear being shot," Judge Alexander Wolf's decision reads. "In other words, he lied."

Police found the dead sow a short distance away from his home, while Millar hid the cub on his own property. Police returned a second time and Millar admitted to shooting one bear and said it was aggressive as he tried to chase it away.

"Once more, this was a lie," Wolf said.

A witness told police Millar loaded the dead cub into a truck and fled the home after police left the second time, later lying to the conservation officers that investigated the incident, too, according to the decision.

Millar, whose father was a conservation officer and who has given bear safety courses to campers in the Tofino area, continued to tell the court he acted out of "fear" when he shot the bears. Wolf said that was "simply not true."

He made no attempt to scare the bears off, then asked conservation officers for the fur because it would "make a good story to tell," according to the decision. He also asked for the meat because it would be "a shame" for it to be wasted."

Wolf sentenced Millar to 30 days jail for each killing, which would be served concurrently. Millar was surprised by the jail sentence, expecting to simply pay a fine for the killings.

“That is such a shock for me. I was under the impression that these are not criminal matters being that I didn’t use a firearm," he said in court at the end of his trial.

The sentence may be the first time a BC court put an offender in prison for unlawfully killing an animal, but provincial law says a person can be liable for both a fine up to $100,000 and a year in prison.

"The message must be clear, if you kill a bear, and lie to the police and Conservation Officers, you will go to jail," Wolf said.

Along with the month in prison, he was fined $11,000 for the killings, which will include $500 payments to the Crown and the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund.

Wolf banned Millar from hunting for twenty years and allowed the Crown to seize the bows he used to kill the black bears.

"In British Columbia, hunting is a privilege. Only responsible, trustworthy, and law-abiding citizens should be allowed to enjoy this privilege," Wolf said.

The punishment appears to be in stark contrast to a bear killing in the Kamloops area earlier this year.

The August killing was in a residential area at the Skeetchestn Indian Band, where a bear was chased up a tree in the middle of the night and shot at dozens of times with a rifle before it was killed.

The Conservation Officer Service told iNFOnews.ca it was "aware" of the incident and Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Crystal Evelyn said the incident wasn't believed to be criminal.

Conservation Officers did enforce wildlife regulations last month when they ticketed a man who shot a bear in the Westsyde neighbourhood on Oct. 23.

The officers had to euthanize the bear when it was found still alive, but injured. Police were also called to the scene and enforced a search warrant on the man's home on Nov. 1.

No one has been charged criminally or scheduled to appear in court for either incident, according to online court records.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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