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

Paramedics union raises alarm over spike in out-of-service ambulances

Staffing shortages affecting service levels in Kootenays

Fernie skier braves extremes to find ‘soul line’

Caleb Brown named male champion at backcountry ski competition

Avalanche warning issued for Lizard Range, Flathead near Fernie

Warmer weather to increase avalanche risk: Avalanche Canada

Replacement school for Fernie imminent: SD5

School district board chair confident capital funding to follow maintenance project announcement

Teck to address air emission issues at Sparwood mine

Poorly performing dust collection system blamed for exceedances at Elkview Operations

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

BC man ‘parks’ horse during liquor store pit stop

As long as animal wasn’t jaywalking, no problem, says Parksville official

’Full worm super moon’ to illuminate B.C. skies on first day of spring

Spring has sprung, a moon named in honour of thawing soil marks final super moon until 2020

Police lock down part of Armstrong after ‘live grenade’ discovered

An ordnance believed to be a grenade found on Smith Drive between Dairy Queen and Anchor Inn Pub

Dutch police question new suspect in deadly tram shooting

Police are looking for additional suspects in the shooting

Starbucks to test recyclable cups, redesign stores in B.C., U.S. cities

The company also said it plans to redesign its stores as it adapts to increasing mobile pick-up and delivery orders

In pre-election budget, Liberals boost infrastructure cash to cities, broadband

The budget document says the Liberals have approved more than 33,000 projects, worth about $19.9 billion in federal financing

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

Most Read