Approximately 300 pounds of moose meat seized from suspected Lower Mainland poachers has been gifted to Abbotsford’s Archway Food Bank by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS).
The moose was illegally killed near Fort Nelson, and conservation officers were able to track down the alleged poachers to a home through information they received. They executed a search warrant on Thursday, Oct. 28.
Officers dropped off two shopping carts full of seized meat to the food bank that same day.
The investigation is looking at multiple people, and charges are pending, said Sgt. Don Stahl of COS.
“It definitely was not an honest mistake,” Stahl said.
B.C. has strict hunting regulations, even more so when it comes to moose, Stahl said. They can only be hunted at certain times of the year, and licensed hunters can only take one per year.
In some areas, permits for taking moose are only granted through a lottery draw system.
While it’s illegal to sell, trade or barter any wild game in B.C., there is a criminal black market for it.
Stahl said moose meat is “highly sought after,” and is almost considered a delicacy.
“If it was lawful to purchase, wild moose would probably sell for more than Angus steak because it’s a lot rarer,” he said.
Stahl said a first-time offence for blatant deer poaching in his jurisdiction would generally net a $3,000 fine, forfeiture of firearm, and a suspension of hunting licence for two to five years.
“A moose is maybe a little more serious because it’s a much bigger animal, and there are a lot more deer in British Columbia,” he said.
In April 2021, three men were fined $11,000 for their part in poaching four moose in the Okanagan. The main perpetrator was handed a $7,000 fine and was banned entirely from all hunting activities for two years.
People often wonder what happens to the seized meat, Stahl said, but it’s always donated to local food banks, community shelters or First Nations.
He said the seizures are much more common in the northern areas of the province, but the service has made donations locally before, including an elk to the Sumas First Nation several years ago.
Stahl encourages people to report illegal activity to the BC Conservation Officer Service’s Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line: 1-877-952-7277.