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District outfitters fined

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Two tourist outfitters from the Fort Frances area have been fined a total of $13,000 for offences under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

William Godin and Nellie Halverson of Devlin, the owners of Lake Despair Lodge, pleaded guilty and each were fined $5,000, and given a two-year probation order, for the sale of moose meat and angler-caught fish.

They each were fined an additional $750 for failing to comply with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's Licence Issuing Manual.

In addition, Godin was fined $500 for trespassing, $500 for failing to wear hunter orange, and $500 for possessing a loaded firearm in a powerboat.

He must successfully complete the Ontario Hunter Education Course.

Court heard that a joint investigation was initiated between the MNRF and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources after conservation officers received tips and complaints from the public.

A two-year undercover investigation revealed that between October, 2015 and October, 2016, Godin and Halverson prepared and served multiple meals of moose meat and angler-caught fish to paying guests at Lake Despair Lodge in violation of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

The investigation also revealed instances of unlawful hunting activity.

During guided deer hunts, Godin advised hunters that they did not need to wear hunter orange.

Hunters were taken by a guide, working under Godin's direction, to an area that was signed “No Trespassing.”

Godin also directed a hunter to get into a powerboat with a loaded rifle in order to move the hunter closer to a deer that was being hunted.

As well, it was determined Godin and Halverson had failed to comply with the MNRF Licence Issuing Manual and had charged customers an additional fee on licences purchased.

Justice of the Peace Pat Clysdale-Cornell heard the case Jan. 12 in Fort Frances.

To report a natural resources violation, call toll-free 1-877-847-7667 any time or contact your local ministry office during regular business hours.

You also can call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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