Poaching case drags on to Aug. 3

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A High Prairie man charged in a major fish-poaching operation will get to find out more about his charges in a few weeks.

Louis Robert Bellrose, 85, appeared in Edmonton provincial court July 12 to set a new trial date.

However, the matter was put over Aug. 3 to speak to.

A four-day trial scheduled from June 7-11 was postponed by COVID-19 restrictions.

Bellrose faces one count of unlawfully possessing fish and 11 counts of unauthorized buying and selling fish.

He faces other related charges that are still in the court system.

Alberta Fish and Wildlife announced the charges Jan. 23, 2020 after concluding a two-year undercover investigation focused on trafficking fish in northern and central Alberta.

Bellrose is among 33 people from the High Prairie, Faust, Slave Lake areas and other Alberta communities facing at total of 80 charges under the General Fisheries [Alberta] Regulations.

The other people charged are from Morinville, Edmonton, Vegreville, Bashaw, Halkirk and Castor.

It is alleged the fish netted were primarily in Lesser Slave Lake east of High Prairie and Winagami Lake northwest of High Prairie under the guise of Metis and Treaty domestic fishing rights.

There is no commercial fishery in Alberta and Metis and Treaty harvesting rights allow for personal subsistence use only.

During the course of the investigation, it was estimated that about 12,000 pounds of fish were illegally killed and subsequently trafficked from the two lakes.

The penalty for trafficking fish is a maximum of $100,000 and one year in jail.

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