Poachers Bagged With Help of DNA and Satellite Detective Work
• Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebecand Even Magpies Co-operate
Four men and one woman from Quebec have pled guilty through lawyers in provincial court to breaking provincial and federal wildlife regulations following extensive detective work by fish and wildlife officers and police using DNA testing along with pinpointing areas near Provost where deer remains were discovered using a satellite global positioning system (GPS).
Local Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer Lee Robley said that poaching offenses involving three people in 2003 near Porcupine Plains, Sask. triggered an investigation that led to Provost.
Property confiscated from the Saskatchewan investigation where deer had been shot, antlers sawed off and the carcass left to rot included a photograph of two hunters with a deer as well as GPS equipment that had co-ordinates embedded in poachers’ equipment that pin-pointed Provost locations.
An investigation found that some of the rifle hunters had been staying in Macklin and poaching in the Provost area in 2003 approximately 10 to 15 miles south and west of town.
The poachers shipped seven sets of deer antlers in a box to Quebec through a courier service but the box began to leak before it reached its destination and after it was returned to its shipping origin, the antlers were seized by Saskatchewan authorities. A DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid inside cells that carries genetic information) analysis by the Fish and Wildlife forensic laboratory of a deer carcass sample found by Robley in the Provost area biologically matched three sets of antlers that had been couriered.
Robley, who has been working on this case since November 2003 also matched a seized photograph taken in the bush by the poachers with one he later took at the same site showing deer remains and the identical stand of trees.