When Clayton Stoner went on a Canadian bear hunt in 2013, he likely never thought it would cost him this much.
National Hockey League defenseman Clayton Stoner has been hit with a $10,000 fine and has lost all hunting privileges for the next three years in British Columbia after a guilty plea to hunting without a license.
The 6 foot, 4 inch Anaheim Ducks defenseman was a member of the Minnesota Wild when he allegedly violated multiple game laws. In May 2013, he allegedly killed a bear in his native province without the proper license. Stoner’s lawyer Marvin Stern pled guilty to hunting without a license on Stoner’s behalf Wednesday.
While he is from British Columbia and owns a home there, Stoner’s problems in the case center around residency issues caused by the large amount of time he spends outside the province while playing with the NHL. British Columbia requires one to have lived for at least half the time in six months of the year before they can obtain a hunting license.
“For an NHL player … they’re going to be out of the province for at least seven months,” Government lawyer Jim Cryder told the court. “He hasn’t, in fact, qualified as a resident.”
Judge Brent Hoy did believe Stern’s explanation that Stoner had been mistaken about his residency status and charges for unlawfully possessing dead wildlife, hunting out of season and making a false statement to obtain a license were dropped.
But Hoy believed that Stoner still had to take some measure of responsibility in the manner, which led to the fine and hunting ban.
Stoner was vilified quickly in 2013 after the shooting of the bear, specifically because it was originally believed to be a tourist favorite named Cheeky from the province’s Great Bear Rainforest. Photos of the NHL player with a bear’s head were widely circulated online in the wake of the news.
Stern said subsequent DNA testing revealed the bear Stoner killed was 18 years old, much older than Cheeky, who was believed to be only five years old.
“His untimely death due to Mr. Stoner’s unlawful actions has caused us significant harm, including financial loss, and has been a significant disappointment to our guides and clients,” said Brian Falconer of the Rainforest Conservation Fund at the time.
The government however, is not taking a stance on the bear’s identity. Judge Hoy was more concerned the law had been broken and responsibility must be taken.
“If one hunts, then one must do so responsibly,” Judge Hoy said.