R v Nordstrom

The Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan released a decision on November 27, 2014 in R. v. Nordstrom, dismissing Mr. Nordstrom’s appeal from his convictions under The Wildlife Act of Saskatchewan and the federal Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).

Mr. Nordstrom is the sole shareholder of Cree Nation Outfitters Ltd, a company that offers hunting expeditions of free-range animals and operates a game farm on Poundmaker First Nation land. Mr. Nordstrom would stock his domestic game farm largely by purchasing elk and deer from producers within and outside Saskatchewan. Clients would visit the game farm to hunt the elk and deer and return home with various animal parts. The circumstances leading to some of Mr. Nordstrom’s charges involved a number of clients returning home to the United States with animal parts.

The Court considered whether various parts of elk and white-tailed deer exported by Mr. Nordstrom were “wildlife” pursuant to The Wildlife Act. Mr. Nordstrom argued that the term “parts”, when considered alongside the protective purpose of The Wildlife Act, suits the proposition that The Wildlife Act’s purpose is to protect living animals and animal parts needed for reproduction. Protecting antlers, furs and meat, according to Mr. Nordstrom, would therefore not advance the objectives of The Wildlife Act. However, the Court interpreted the meaning of the term “part” and concluded it should not be limited or restricted to mean specific animal body parts; and further concluded the term “wildlife” includes elk and deer because their body parts are prized possessions thus requiring the protection intended by The Wildlife Act.

Mr. Nordstrom further argued that he was exempt from the requirements for an export licence under The Wildlife Actbecause of an agreement with Saskatchewan Environment that qualified him under s. 13(2) of The Captive Wildlife Regulations. The Court examined the aforementioned agreement and noted that it required there to be an Indian band bylaw in place to outline the operation of domestic game farms. However, the Court found that, among the band’s bylaws, there was nothing pertaining to game farming and exporting wildlife. While it may be possible for band bylaws to override the general application of provincial hunting laws, in this case, there was no such bylaw to that effect.

The Court also considered whether the trial judge erred in sentencing Mr. Nordstrom and determined the fines imposed were “a fit penalty” that spoke to the importance of upholding the regulatory wildlife regime and to Mr. Nordstrom’s ability to pay.  Accordingly, the Court did not grant Mr. Nordstrom leave to appeal his sentences and dismissed the appeals for his convictions. 

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