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A motorcycle club in southern Alberta has been fined for a race that saw bikes roar through creeks, killing or endangering fish including the threatened Westslope Cutthroat Trout.

The Brooks Motocross Club and a member of its executive were both found guilty last December of contravening the Fisheries Act and Species at Risk Act.

Provincial court Judge Jerry LeGrandeur fined the club $45,000 and the David French, its executive director, $25,000.

The club and French contravened the acts by allowing motocross bikes to race through streams in the Racehorse Creek area of the Crowsnest Pass in August of 2014.

The bikers killed a number of bull trout, as well as Westslope Cutthroat Trout, which are designated a threatened species.

The Crown said during the trial that French was supposed to have built bridges for the bikers to cross the streams, but Crown witnesses who took photos of the race testified there was only one permanent bridge.

“It is much more than a slap on the wrist in the context of this offender, but less than crushing; serves to deter both generally and specifically, making it clear that even small corporations will pay a significant price relatively speaking for such regulatory offences,” LeGrandeur said in court Tuesday.

The judge said French was aware of the regulations and he was in charge of ensuring bridges were built over streams so racers would not disturb or kill fish.

“I conclude that Mr. French’s moral culpability is high,” LeGrandeur said. “He was, based on his evidence, in charge of bridges, however, he did nothing to address those concerns.”

In addition to the fines, LeGrandeur ordered French and the club to advertise in a motocross magazine in Alberta or other publication approved by the court, informing readers of the convictions and fines under the acts.

The Alberta Wilderness Association applauded the ruling Wednesday, saying the decision defends Alberta’s imperilled native trout and upholds the intent of the federal Species at Risk Act.

“This decision is important, as it recognizes the importance of our threatened native trout species and reinforces that we are all responsible for their protection and recovery,” Joanna Skrajny, a conservation specialist with the association, said in a release.

She said the motorcycle club failed to obtain the necessary approvals for the race, failed to place bridges over water crossings and did not speak to federal fisheries authorities “despite having taken the proper precautions in years previous and being aware that Westslope Cutthroat Trout is a threatened species.”

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