Thursday September 17th, 2015

A defenseman with the Anaheim Ducks faces criminal charges after allegedly engaging in an illegal grizzly bear hunt in British Columbia.

NHL veteran Clayton Stoner has been hit with five charges related to the 2013 killing of a grizzly known as Cheeky under the Wildlife Act, including two counts of making a false statement to obtain a hunting license, one count of hunting without a license, one count of hunting wildlife out of season, and one count of unlawful possession of dead wildlife.

Stoner is scheduled to appear in Vancouver provincial court on Oct. 9.

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At the heart of the matter is Stoner’s residency. The Wildlife Act requires those who apply as resident hunters to be “Canadian citizens or permanent residents whose primary residences are in B.C. and who are physically present in B.C. the greater portion of each of six calendar months out of the 12 calendar months preceding both their application for the hunt and the date of the actual hunt.”

According to the Vancouver Sun, that’s where the B.C.-born Stoner ran afoul of the law. As a professional hockey player who was skating at the time for the Minnesota Wild, he did not meet the residency requirement.

He could have worked around that by paying a fee of about $25,000 to hunt with a licensed B.C. guide-outfitter. A steep price for sure, but pennies on the dollar compared to the maximum fines of $50,000 to $250,000 he now faces on the licensing charges.

Native groups are also taking issue with the location of the hunt. The Sun reports that Stoner shot the grizzly midway between Bella Coola and Bella Bella in the Kwatna River estuary, an area that the aboriginal peoples have declared off-limits to trophy hunting. The bear’s head and paws were removed from the body and carried out past a sign declaring trophy hunting closed in the Great Bear Rainforest.

The provincial government, however, does not recognize the First Nations ban and Stoner faces no charges related to the location.

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Stoner hasn’t commented publicly since being charged, but he defended his trophy hunting when the story first broke in 2013.

“I grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia and continue to enjoy spending time with my family outdoors,” he said.

“I applied for and received a grizzly bear hunting license through a British Columbia limited entry lottery last winter and shot a grizzly bear with my license while hunting with my father, uncle and a friend in May.

“I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia.”

He may well do that ... but he’ll probably fork out for the proper license first.


GALLERY: NHL Players and the Law

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