Athabasca County sentenced $300K for illegal activity in Meanook National Wildlife Area

From: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Enforcing Canadian environmental and wildlife laws is one important way that Environment and Climate Change Canada is taking action to protect wildlife and nature.

On June 10, 2019, Athabasca County, a municipal district in Alberta, pleaded guilty to violating the Wildlife Area Regulations, contrary to the Canada Wildlife Act. Athabasca County was ordered to pay a penalty of $300,000 which will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.

In September 2017, Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers conducted an inspection at the Meanook National Wildlife Area following a report of suspected unauthorized activities. An investigation revealed that Athabasca County had conducted industrial activity between August 24 and September 27, 2017. During this period, trees were felled and burned, and other vegetation and soil were removed without authorization. Fencing, signage and scientific equipment was also destroyed. This activity affected approximately 2.5 hectares of land within the National Wildlife Area, causing risk to wildlife and damage to wildlife habitat.

Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) to anonymously report wildlife crimes. You may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000.

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Quick facts

  • National Wildlife Areas are protected and managed according to the Wildlife Area Regulations under the Canada Wildlife Act. The primary purpose of National Wildlife Areas is the protection and conservation of wildlife and their habitat.

  • Meanook National Wildlife Area is located approximately 140 km north of Edmonton, in the transition zone between boreal forest and aspen parkland. The area provides habitat for typical boreal songbird species, such as Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Hermit Thrush, as well as birds like Red-winged Blackbird and American Redstart. Hawks, Grouse and small mammals such as Red Squirrel and Snowshoe Hare are also frequently found within the Meanook National Wildlife Area. Large mammals in the area include Coyote, Deer, Black Bear and Moose.

  • Created in 1995, the Environmental Damages Fund is a Government of Canada program administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Environmental Damages Fund follows the “violator pays” principle and ensures that court-awarded penalties are used for projects with positive environmental impacts.

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