The following statement was issued today by the Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources.
The images of rabbits that appear to have been carelessly discarded for no apparent reason or justification is as disturbing to me as it would be to anyone who cares for our common outdoor heritage.
On Friday, November 1, conservation officers in both the Avalon region and the Corner Brook office received information from one individual about the presence of several deceased rabbits at a location adjacent to the Robert E. Howlett Memorial Highway.
Fish and Wildlife Enforcement officers respond to and investigate every complaint received and, as a matter of well-established investigative practice, do not comment or provide details into such investigations, including the investigation resulting from the complaint received.
Over the past two weeks Fish and Wildlife Enforcement officers have been involved in multiple, ongoing investigations on the Avalon Peninsula related to illegal hunting. These investigations continue and charges are pending. Decisions around investigative planning, strategy and tactics are never disclosed and are at the professional discretion of the enforcement commanders. This includes prioritization and allocation of resources, use of field informants, surveillance measures and all other investigative measures.
On the weekend of November 1, officers were engaged in several high-level, on-going investigations. Without informing the department, an individual or individuals removed the rabbit remains from the area, thereby disturbing the chain of evidence and severely jeopardizing any investigation. The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources continues to advise the public that, while well intentioned, they should never disturb wildlife remains which are potentially the subject of a law enforcement investigation.
Witnesses should continue to inform authorities of any potential breach of the Wildlife Act, as was the case in this situation. While it is understandable that people who share a healthy respect for our outdoors heritage may request the immediate disclosure of enforcement actions to protect that common heritage, this can be counterproductive to achieving the desired result of bringing justice to offenders. For these reasons, information and operational details of active investigations cannot be shared.
I have full confidence and trust in our team of provincial conservation officers and will continue to support them in the often difficult but essential job of protecting the resources we all share.
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Fisheries and Land Resources