A routine hunter compliance check last fall began an investigation that uncovered a family’s pattern of unethical hunting practices and offences committed over the last 10 years.
The case concluded on July 12 in Wakaw Provincial Court, when four individuals pleaded guilty to a total of 18 counts of various wildlife infractions. Donna Balone, Miles Balone, Travis Balone and Nicole Forcier received combined fines of $16,960 and hunting suspensions ranging from one to three years.
On November 21, 2021, a Saskatoon conservation officer on a hunting patrol stopped Travis Balone and Nicole Forcier near Wakaw. The officer found that Travis Balone was unlawfully carrying and hunting with Nicole Forcier’s white-tailed deer seal.
The investigation then led to the pair’s residence, where the officer found two trophy white-tailed deer skulls that had been taken earlier in the season. Both had seals attached, one belonging to Travis Balone and the other to Donna Balone, his mother. The officer seized the skull with Travis Balone’s seal immediately, as Nicole Forcier admitted to shooting it. The other skull was seized later when it was confirmed that it was Travis Balone who shot the deer before placing his mother’s seal on it.
Over the next several months, the investigation revealed other offences:
- In 2014, Miles Balone shot a trophy bull moose without a licence. Later, Nicole Forcier allowed him to attach her draw moose seals to the animal.
- Nicole Forcier purchased white-tailed deer licences and entered the Big Game Draw since 2012, despite not receiving her hunter education/firearm safety certificate until November 2016.
- On November 20, 2021, Travis Balone hunted a trophy white-tailed buck with help from Miles Balone, his father. He failed to field dress and tag the deer and continued to hunt, later attaching Donna Balone’s game seal to the animal.
- Travis Balone and Donna Balone falsified their hunter harvest survey records.
- All parties involved provided false or misleading information to the officer throughout the investigation.