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Area where hunting guide illegally operated ATV doesn't fit definition of forested: Corner Brook judge

Justice
Justice

The definition of a forested area was taken into consideration when Judge Wayne Gorman convicted a man of operating an all-terrain vehicle outside an approved area in provincial court in Corner Brook on Wednesday.

Gregory Norris, a hunting guide from the east coast of the province, was tried with the offence under the Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Regulations on March 14.

On Oct. 18, 2017 a conservation officer was conducting a helicopter patrol in the area of the Gaff Topsails, about 30 kilometres east of Howley, when he saw an Argo, a six-wheel all-terrain vehicle, parked on a bog with fresh tracks on the bog coming from a nearby pond.

The officer landed the helicopter and began an investigation after he saw two men walking across the bog.

Norris identified himself as the operator of the Agro and said he used it to get into the area. The other man was a hunter from Mexico City.

The Argo was parked about six kilometres from the nearest approved trail and a map of the area from Crown Lands, submitted as evidence, shows the area is not an approved trail.

The Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Regulations prohibits the use or operation of all-terrain outside of approved areas.

Gorman read out the definition an of approved area in his remarks in court and included it in his written decision.

Approved areas include forested lands underlain by mineral soil; a trail constructed under licence issued under the Lands Act; beaches, unless otherwise prohibited by the minister; abandoned railway corridors, highways abandoned under the Works, Services and Transportation Act, forest access roads as defined under the Forestry Act, roads constructed under licence issued under the Lands Act and any other road constructed for the purpose of providing vehicular access to resources including but not limited to forestry, agriculture, hydroelectric, recreation, mining, industrial and similar developments;  privately owned lands less than 10 hectares; working farms; lands in Labrador north of 54 degrees latitude and lands when snow-covered and frozen below the ground surface.

Norris’s lawyer, Jonathan Andrews, conceded Norris operated the ATV in an area that was not a trail constructed under licence issued under the Lands Act.

However, he pointed out that the definition of an approved area is broader in scope with the regulations allowing usage on forested lands.

He argued that the Crown failed to prove the area in which Norris operated the ATV fell outside this aspect of an approved area and therefore had failed to prove Norris committed the actus reus of the offence.

However, after looking at definitions for forest and forested, which Collinsdictionary.com defines as an area covered in trees growing closely together, Gorman concluded the Crown had proven its case.

He said the photographs of the area entered as an exhibit show a barren landscape with bog and limited areas of tuckamore, not forested lands.

Gorman fined Norris $500, which is the minimum mandatory fine for a first offence under the regulations.

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