R v Charles and others

Territorial subdivision
Type of court
Date of opinion

In 1995 a wildlife officer received information that the appellants have been engaged in illegally trafficking in white-tailed deer, deer and elk antlers, and moose. As a result of the resulting investigation the appellants were charged with a variety of offences contrary to The Wildlife Act, S.S. 1979, c.W-13.1 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act").
The appellants have submitted, however, that the provisions of the Act do not apply to them as members of Indian Bands pursuant to the Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c.I-5. Furthermore, they argued that the wildlife officers who conducted the investigation and gathering of evidence as part of an undercover operation have entered the Little Red Indian Reserve illegally and have also been guilty of entrapment.
The appellants also submitted that in the event that the convictions against them should not be set aside, that the minimum penalties specified in the Act constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
Throughout 1995 and 1996, the appellants have been engaged in illegally trafficking in the above-mentioned objects. An investigation officer involved in the undercover operation managed to ingratiate himself with the appellants as a buyer of the above-mentioned objects. The appellants went out throughout the two years making such offers and deliveries and selling them successfully to the investigation officer.
Mathew Charles was charged with illegal hunting, illegal possession of elk, and trafficking in elk (on two separate occasions); David Charles was convicted of trafficking in white-tailed deer antlers; Edwin Naytowhow was charged with one count of illegal possession of, and one count of trafficking in, elk meat; and Anthony Naytowhow was charged with one count of illegal possession of, and one count of trafficking in, elk meat.
To argue that provincial game laws do not apply to Indians on Indian reservations is, admittedly, substantially the same as the assertion that Indian reservations constitute "enclaves". This proposition was rejected by the Supreme Court of Canada in Cardinal v Attorney General of Alberta, 1974 S.C.R. 695. If a provincial legislation within the limits of the Constitution Act is not construed as being legislation in relation to "Indians and Indian reservations". it is applicable anywhere in the province, including Indian reservations, even though Indians or Indian reservations might be affected by it.
Furthermore, the facts do not reveal any "search or seizure" by the wildlife officer in the ordinary sense of those words. Nor do they reveal that the wildlife officer intruded, in any manner, upon any reasonable privacy interest or any of the appellants. It is important to note, that the appellants willingly catered to the wildlife officer's expressed interests, which also trumps the entrapment claim.
The purpose of the Wildlife Act is the conservation and management of wildlife. Thus, when individuals engage in trafficking of wildlife for personal profit, whatever the amount thereof, the legislature has deemed it appropriate that they be severely penalized. To conclude that a minimum fine of $1000 (Canadian Dollars), in those circumstances, is cruel and unusual punishment, would be totally unjustified.
As a result, the appeals are dismissed. (Provided by: UNODC SHERLOC)

Language of document
Elk, White-tailed deer, Moose