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Hudson's Hope man could lose boat and truck for illegal hunting

Justin Thibault has been banned from hunting for five years
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A B.C. hunter who shot at a paper deer decoy set up by conservation officers should permanently lose his truck, trailer and boat, B.C.'s director of civil forfeiture says in a lawsuit.

The provincial agency filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Justin Thibault, of Hudson's Hope, in the Peace region of B.C. 

The suit said that in the fall of 2017, conservation officers had been receiving reports of illegal night hunting near Farrell Creek in the Hudson's Hope area.

The officers staked out Farrell Creek and “determined that Justin Thibault used the vehicle to hunt during prohibited hours and with the aid of a light of an illuminating device.”

The officers set up the “decoy paper mule deer” on the night of Nov. 5, 2017 and watched from several locations.

They “observed Justin Thibault attend the location in the vehicle and utilize lights before shooting twice at the decoy with a rifle from inside the vehicle, a method of illegal hunting known as `pit lamping,'” the statement of claim said.

Thibault drove toward two officers who had activated their emergency lights. He then “turned the vehicle around and fled the area at a high rate of speed in a manner that could have resulted in serious bodily harm to a person,” the lawsuit said.

To get away from two other of­ficers, “Thibault accelerated and drove through a ditch.”

The RCMP later searched the 2006 Ford F350 truck and found a live cartridge, which was “the same type of cartridge that had been used to shoot the decoy.”

On June 10, 2020, police and conservation officers searched Thibault's home, the director said. They found a live bear cub, stolen property, a rifle “that had been used in relation to illegal hunting ” in 2013 and the “rifle that had been used to shoot the decoy.”

On April 12, 2021, Thibault pleaded guilty to one count of hunting with an illuminating device contrary to the Wildlife Act. He was fined $5,000 and banned from hunting for five years.

Thibault is still before the court on several charges laid last year, including mischief, possession of stolen property and possession of a firearm without a licence.

The government lawsuit also says Thibault's 2001 Jetcraft boat and his 2004 Carnai boat trailer should be forfeit because they were used to illegally fish for bull trout in the Peace River several times between 2015 and when they were seized by conservation officers in 2019.

No statement of defence has been filed.