A Savary Island resident is facing mischief and firearms-related charges after he shot and killed a dog that was chasing a deer on the island last month.
Powell River RCMP officers arrested a 51-year-old Savary Island man in connection with the incident on February 19. Police seized the man’s guns and his valid firearms licence. He was later released from custody on the condition that he not possess any guns.
The man has cooperated with investigators, providing information and details about the alleged offence, said police spokesperson constable Kerri Chard. The man has admitted to being involved in the death of the dog, as well as the deer, said Chard. Charges have not yet been heard in court.
According to BC conservation officer Andrew Anaka, while Savary residents are permitted to own rifles, they are not permitted to fire them on the island. He declined to comment on the police investigation.
Police received an anonymous tip outlining the incident on February 14 and arrived on the island February 19 to investigate. Savary does not have any RCMP officers stationed on the island.
The slain dog was a three-year-old Australian Shepherd cross. According to a police statement, investigators interviewed the dog’s owner and learned it had vanished into the woods while out for an off-leash walk near Patricia Crescent on February 3.
Police say they will not provide more details about how the dog and deer were killed, but did say the owner and community members spent 10 days searching the island for the dog before the man came forward and returned its remains to its owner.
Anaka said BC Conservation Officer Service is also investigating the incident for offences under the BC Wildlife Act and the dog’s owner may also be facing fines or possible jail time.
“You cannot allow your dog to pursue wildlife,” said Anaka.
Anaka added that it is not uncommon for his office to receive complaints from Savary residents saying they have witnessed dogs chasing deer on the island.
Savary has few sources of fresh running water and is home to a deer population that does not have any natural predators. Former Savary resident and longtime SPCA volunteer Audrey Hill said pregnant deer are known to abort their young if chased, and others can be pursued to the point of collapse.
Hill said she has taken dogs off island and turned them into the conservation officer service when she encountered them chasing deer in the past.
“The owner was fined and ticketed and got his dog back,” said Hill. “To me, that’s how this should have gone and what should happen in the future.”
According to Anaka, if a dog owner is found in contravention of the act, he or she can receive a $115 ticket or six months in jail or a $50,000 fine, depending on the circumstances of the incident.
Hill said she plans on posting signs around the island notifying residents to call her in the event they see dogs engaging in the same behaviour.
Chard said police are planning an upcoming meeting for island residents on the issue and others facing the community. A date has yet to be finalized.