An American celebrity hunter who makes big money selling videos of his waterfowl hunts must hand some cash to the courts for violations that include abusing birds after he shot them.
Jeff Foiles, 54, from Pleasant Hill, Ill., was fined $14,500 on Wednesday in Edmonton court and banned from hunting in Canada for the next three years.
He had already been sentenced in the United States to 13 months in prison, fined $100,000 and banned from hunting there for two years. He is to start serving his time Nov. 21.
Provincial court Judge Susan Richardson agreed to the sentence recommended by the Crown and defence. Mr. Foiles was not present and could not be reached for comment.
Judge Richardson said the worst part of the case was that Mr. Foiles caused “gratuitous harm” to the animals. She added he may no longer be allowed to cross the border into Canada now that he has a criminal record.
During one of his videotaped hunts in Alberta in 2007, Mr. Foiles is seen holding up a wounded duck he calls “Mrs. Mallard.” He wrenches its neck and opens its mouth while making quacking noises.
In another hunt videotaped the next day, Mr. Foiles manipulates a wounded duck for four minutes, whacking it on the head with a duck call, covering its head with an empty shell box and playing peek-a-boo. He later places his fingers over the bird's nostrils and holds its beak closed while asking “Is this how you want to die?”
The cameraman is heard urging Mr. Foiles to kill the duck in a tone that suggests he doesn't think his antics are funny.
A wildlife expert testified that the birds were conscious, alive and suffering extreme pain and stress.
Mr. Foiles pleaded guilty in September to cruelty to animals under the Criminal Code as well as to five offences under the Migratory Birds Act. Those charges include exceeding the daily bag limit of ducks and geese, hunting birds from a power boat and not immediately retrieving and killing a wounded bird.
“It was obvious activity that wasn't conducive to a fair chase,” said Brian Petrar with Environment Canada's wildlife enforcement division.
He said Mr. Foiles is a big name in the waterfowl hunting world. His commercial videos under the brand name Fallin' Skies are especially popular in the U.S.
“He loves to hunt waterfowl, and he also wasn't afraid to bend the rules to make some money,” said Mr. Petrar, who added he hopes fans of Mr. Foiles will scale back their admiration in light of the court cases.
“We want to ensure that people play by the rules. Kill the bird, put it in your bag limit and continue on hunting.”
He said Canadian investigators worked on the case for four years with officers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Mr. Foiles pleaded guilty in June in an Illinois court to two of 28 wildlife charges. Between 2003 and 2007, he guided hunts with his Fallin' Skies Strait Meat Duck Club and encouraged hunters to exceed their daily bag limits. Mr. Foiles and other workers then falsified hunting records.
The hunting club also pleaded guilty to the two offences and is to be sentenced Dec. 20.
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