With enough reasonable doubt, Judge Catherine Allen-Westby acquitted Calvin Samms, 70, of failing to comply with a big game licence under the Wildlife Act for possession of a big game animal or parts thereof in provincial court on Thursday.
On Nov. 3, 2015 Samms had been out with his nephew, Craig Andrews, and Albert Curlew. After shooting and killing a moose, Andrews discovered it was cow and not a bull calf as allowed under his licence.
Around the time the moose was killed, wildlife officers received a complaint of gunshots being heard near Samms’ farm just outside Howley. It was dark and outside lawful hunting hours.
The officers patrolled the area and came across the three men near Samms’ home. Andrews took them to the site of the kill.
All three men were originally charged with possession of a big game animal.
The charge against Curlew, 64, was withdrawn in February. At the same time Andrews, 55, pleaded guilty to the charge against him and was fined $1,000 and prohibited from hunting for five years.
Samms went on trial on the charge against him on March 27 after a judge dismissed a pretrial application to have a statement attributed to him not entered into evidence.
The investigating wildlife officer had testified Samms said he helped paunch the animal and that they planned to give the moose to another licence holder.
Andrews testified at Samms’ trial that his uncle was not in very good physical condition and was waiting for a hip replacement at the time. He said he could not lift, carry or bend down and would not be able to assist with the animal.
While Samms was observed by the wildlife officer to have blood on his hands and clothing, Andrews said it was because he had fallen down several times.
He testified he paunched the animal alone and decided on his own to get someone to cover the licence so the moose wouldn’t spoil.
Andrews took complete responsibility for the animal and said he even told the others to leave so they would not be involved.
Samms’ testimony matched that of his nephew. He denied making the statements attributed to him by the wildlife officer. He said he never touched the moose, and he didn’t tell Andrews what to do with it.
He acknowledged he drove the truck that day, but said he had no intention of getting involved with the hunt.
In acquitting Samms, Allen-Westby said she wasn’t satisfied that he exercised some measure of control over the animal and that she had reasonable doubt he made the statements attributed to him.
She said that, from the evidence heard, Samms was not in any condition to participate in the paunching of the moose due to his hip condition.