La Ronge Men Fined $18,600, Banned From Hunting for Killing Woodland Caribou

Syed Azam

The last of three men charged for their involvement in illegally chasing and killing a woodland caribou on a northern lake last spring was sentenced in La Ronge Provincial Court recently. Fines for the three were significant, totalling $18,600.

Zane Layman pleaded guilty in La Ronge Provincial Court on January 9, 2023, to unlawful hunting and using a vehicle to chase wildlife, both offences under The Wildlife Act and The Wildlife Regulations. He was fined $14,000 and banned from hunting for four years. Two additional charges, possessing illegally taken wildlife and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, were withdrawn as part of a joint submission by the Crown and defense counsel.

Two other La Ronge men, Carter Cossette and Robin Louis Jr., had their cases resolved on July 21, 2022. Cossette pleaded guilty in La Ronge Provincial Court to unlawfully chasing wildlife with a vehicle and received a reduced fine of $1,800. Louis did not appear and was found guilty of the same offence and fined $2,800, the voluntary fine amount on the ticket. Both men also received one-year hunting suspensions.

On April 28, 2022, La Ronge conservation officers received independent reports that a caribou had been unlawfully killed the day before on Russell Lake, approximately 450 kilometres north of La Ronge. The investigation pointed to the violations being committed by employees of a local drilling company, who had been working in the area behind the Key Lake mine site gates that day. The company is owned by Zane Layman.

On May 5, officers interviewed employees Cossette and Louis, who provided statements. Cell phone video and photos obtained from the pair showed two woodland caribou being chased by three snowmobilers for approximately 13 kilometres. The footage also showed one animal falling through the ice, recovering, then being chased to exhaustion. One of the snowmobilers, later established to be Layman, then killed the animal with a knife. On May 9, 2022, officers executed a search warrant for Layman’s residence in the resort subdivision of Napatak south of La Ronge and collected additional evidence, including knives, clothing, equipment and electronic devices.

The boreal woodland caribou is a federally listed threatened species under the Species at Risk Act. Over the last five years, Saskatchewan’s woodland caribou program, with funding contributions from Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, has invested approximately $6 million in woodland caribou conservation.

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