Tie Lake man fined for killing wildlife

Man sentenced to $14,000 fine, five-year hunting and firearms bans.

A Tie Lake man has been fined $14,000 and sentenced to hunting and firearms bans for five years after illegally shooting a deer and a black bear in his yard in separate incidents a few years ago.

Frank Velba, a 73-year-old retired electrician, was also issued a no contact order with a Tie Lake neighbour who confronted him after one shooting.

Velba, who was charged and pleaded guilty to a number of wildlife offences, used a .22 calibre rifle to shoot the whitetail deer in the gut after it ate flowers from his garden on Sept. 5, 2016.

Velba initially told Conservation Officers Services that he shot the deer with a .177 pellet gun, but admitted a month later to authorities it was with a more powerful .22 calibre, which he owned illegally without a valid firearms license.

In addition to the deer shooting, Velba’s fines also covered another incident in June 2015 where he killed a black bear by shooting it less than 20 feet away where it ran up a tree, fell down and died, according to a witness.

In a brief address to the Cranbrook Provincial Court chambers and Judge Lynal Doerksen, Velba apologized for his actions.

“I’m sorry it happened, it will never happen again,” Velba told the court. “I wish it never happened.”

The circumstances of the case were jointly presented to Judge Doerksen for consideration, while crown and defence lawyers argued over the size of the fines.

Doerksen said while nuisance deer are a problem in the East Kootenay, Velba’s actions were disturbing. Guilty pleas in the face of overwhelming evidence, along with no criminal history, were mitigating factors, however, misleading conservation officers was an aggravating factor, said Doerksen, noting Velba was lucky he wasn’t charged with obstruction.

“It’s an affront to the law and the regulations that he lied to the Conservation Officers, that he tried to deflect blame from himself,” said Doerksen.

Speaking to the Cranbrook Townsman after attending the sentencing, Perry Van Mill, a neighbour who lives across Tie Lake Shore Rd. from Velba, said he was inside his house when he heard what sounded like a gun shot.

“My daughter said, ‘Dad, somebody just shot a deer; I saw it,’” Van Mill said.

Van Mill left his house and immediately went over to confront Velba, adding that he witnessed Velba putting a gun away in his garage. His daughter went over to try and comfort the deer, which took approximately 20 minutes to die.

Van Mill then went and called the authorities.

Velba’s lawyer argued his client didn’t want to finish off the deer with another shot because the initial gunshot attracted bystanders that made the area unsafe for discharging a firearm.

Van Mill said he was satisfied with the sentencing.

“Excellent, I think so,” Van Mill said. “…The judge was smart, he figured it out. He knew what was going on.”

In addition to the deer incident, Velba also pleaded guilty to shooting a bear in June 2015.

According to the joint submission, another neighbour witnessed Velba shoot a black bear from less than 20 feet away that ran up a tree, fell out and died.

A percentage of Velba’s fines will be directed to the Habitat Conservation Fund.

Just Posted

COTR honours Orange Shirt Day

A virtual event to raise awareness about Orange Shirt Day is being hosted early on Sept. 22

Invermere gets new CAO

Invermere found his new CAO after a long period of research.

Radium council discusses short term rentals

RHS council are elaborating the second draft plan for STR

Farmers’ Institute report highlights emerging local food scene

Beef cattle ranching remains mainstay of valley agriculture

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Most Read