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Province sues to seize truck and boat of B.C. hunter accused of caging bear cub, harassing elk

B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture is suing to seize a truck and boat belonging to a hunter who is accused of caging a bear cub and harassing a swimming elk.

According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court, Justin Thibault pleaded guilty in April to hunting with the aid of an illuminating device.

The notice of civil claim says his truck was seized in 2017 after he tried to escape conservation officers who set up an elaborate sting operation to net the Hudson’s Hope man in the act of “pit-lamping” — using off-road vehicles with high-powered lights to hunt prey.

The officers observed Thibault shooting at a paper mule deer decoy from his truck. He allegedly fled after they turned on their emergency lights.

“Thibault accelerated and drove through a ditch and fled from the [conservation officers] in a manner that could have resulted in serious bodily harm to a person,” the claim says.

“The vehicle was subsequently reported stolen.”

Fishing illegally and harassing elk

Last June, police executed a search warrant at Thibault’s property and located a live bear cub in a cage. They also seized two rifles and stolen property.

According to news reports from the time, the bear cub was freed while Thibault was taken into custody.

A hunter aims at prey in this stock photo. B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture is targeting a Hudson’s Hope man accused of using his truck and boat for illegal hunting. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

He was released on bail, but still faces weapons and possession of stolen property charges in connection with the raid. Thibault is scheduled to make his next appearance in Fort St. John  provincial court on June 28.

According to the lawsuit, conservation officers seized Thibault’s jet boat in 2019 after years of incidents in which he allegedly used the vessel to illegally fish for bull trout.

The claim says Thibault and others used the boat to harass a bull elk swimming across the Peace River in September 2015.

The director of civil forfeiture claims Thibault has been using his truck for illegal activity: hunting during prohibited hours on land where he doesn’t have permission to hunt.

The lawsuit also claims that he exceeded provincial bag limits of white-tailed and mule deer and that Thibault and another individual broke into a trailer and stole items from an industrial camp before fleeing RCMP.

None of the claims have been proven in court and Thibault has not filed a response to the lawsuit.

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