SASKATOON – Three young men charged with poaching ducks that were swimming peacefully on a Saskatchewan pond and then posting their grim exploits on YouTube were expected to plead guilty Monday.
David Fraser, James Fraser and Jeremy Rowlands face charges under federal and provincial wildlife laws in the incident that outraged the public.
The suspects appeared briefly in a Saskatoon court Monday morning where a federal prosecutor said the men intend to plead guilty to the charges. The hearing was adjourned until the afternoon.
The charges are unlawful hunting, hunting out of season, discharging a firearm from a vehicle and leaving edible game to be wasted.
The men tried to shield their faces as they rushed out of the courthouse.
In the YouTube video, three men are seen cheering each other as at least two of them use rifles to shoot the ducks and ducklings.
Brian Petrar with Environment Canada said the case really had nothing to do with hunting.
“It was people using birds as target practice,” he said outside court.
An investigation was started last week after the video surfaced.
Authorities did not know the location where the shooting happened but suspected it was somewhere in Saskatchewan or Alberta because there was a road sign visible and there were blooming fields of canola in the background.
The video prompted a flood of tips from the public.
“The response from our standpoint was fantastic in that the public were obviously outraged by what they saw and the number of calls that they made from tiplines both in Alberta and Saskatchewan was a direct result of why we were able to arrest these individuals on Saturday,” Petrar said.
He said the fact the video was posted on YouTube was instrumental in this case.
“Unless we happened to have an officer present in the area when they did it or a member of the public saw them doing it and reported it, obviously we wouldn’t have known about it.”
The three men were arrested Saturday in a small Saskatoon-area community.