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News archive for January 15, 2014

Accused plans First Nations status as defence

A man who has publicly admitted to shooting two wolves in his Mount Sima neighbourhood last year hopes to have all 10 charges against him dismissed based on his First Nations status.

By Christopher Reynolds on January 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm

A man who has publicly admitted to shooting two wolves in his Mount Sima neighbourhood last year hopes to have all 10 charges against him dismissed based on his First Nations status.

Clayton Thomas, 32, appeared in territorial court Tuesday on violations of the Wildlife Act from last April.

They include hunting near a residence, hunting out of season and the careless use of a firearm.

Thomas’s uncle, Kusta — both his first and last name — acted as counsel.

He told the court he and Thomas are part of the Tahltan First Nation, with roots in northern B.C.

“Aboriginal rights and title has not been eliminated,” Kusta told the Star outside court.

“The right to hunt and protect our people has never been extinguished.”

Thomas, originally from Teslin, said he does not regret his actions but finds the ongoing legal proceedings draining.

“It’s a lengthy process. It always will be. These court type of things will take a couple years out of a guy’s life.”

A search warrant issued last May allowed conservation officers to rifle through his family’s belongings at their home, “including my wife’s underwear.”

The officers seized roughly 50 items, including memory cards, cameras, laptops and phones.

They also confiscated loaded rifle magazines, skinning tools and rifles.

In total, more than 20 wolf, marten, lynx, deer and wolverine pelts and hides were taken. Elk and deer antlers did not escape the seizure either.

Thomas said in an interview with the Star late last year that all the fur, except from the two wolves, was harvested legally from his family’s trapline near Teslin.

Thomas and Kusta said they plan to apply to have all charges dismissed.

The search warrant states gunshots were heard on April 21 and April 23, 2013 near a Mount Sima driveway, about a week after a dog was killed by a wolf at the same spot.

“The informant has no information that the wolf was ... endangering public safety or dogs at the time it was killed,” the warrant reads.

The killing of animals is tightly regulated in residential areas. It is illegal to hunt within one kilometre of a residence without the permission of the occupants.

“While prevention is the best way to avoid human-wildlife conflict, we recognize that sometimes incidents are unavoidable. The Wildlife Act does allow you to kill wildlife in self-defence and, in some cases, in defence of property,” according to the Environment Yukon website.

“Killing of wildlife for these reasons seldom happens in Yukon, however.”

Thomas, who has a 10-month-old son, told the Star last November he was just trying to protect his family and neighbours from potential conflict.

There were wolf tracks in his yard, and Environment Yukon staff had been alerted to concerns in the neighbourhood, but the wolves remained an issue, he maintains.

“I’m still in awe. I can’t stop questioning how the government feels they were entitled and warranted to come through my house,” he said.

“I’m not a murderer, I’m not a drug dealer, I’m not a child pornographer. But I get treated like all three above.”

Thomas stands accused of:

• hunting out of season;

• discharging a firearm without due care to people or property;

• hunting within one kilometre of a residence without permission from occupants;

• possession of wildlife for the purpose of trafficking;

• obstruction of a conservation officer through false statements or interference;

• hunting with lighting or reflective equipment;

• hunting between sunset and sunrise;

• possession of wildlife killed contrary to the Wildlife Act, two counts; and

• possession of more wildlife species than is permitted under the act.

Thomas is not facing criminal charges. The offences he stands accused of are punishable by fine.

He is due in court again Jan. 24.

By CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS
Star Reporter

CommentsAdd a comment

June Jackson

Jan 15, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I am not sure I understand what Mr. Thomas is saying.  Is he saying “I am FN and I can kill anything I want to, where ever I want to, when ever I want to with what ever weapon I choose?”

Frank

Jan 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

This man has been very disrespectful to our wildlife laws, conservation officers doing their jobs, the First Nation and traditional territory on which he killed animals illegally at night, other SIMA residents and now our legal system.

Clayton is not a victim- many others and the two wolves are. Clayton’s day in court will be expensive for the taxpayer- hopefully it will teach Clayton a lesson and be very expensive for him.

just Say'in

Jan 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm

There is no way that these CO’s should have this kind of power and they have to be reined in a bit. Who made them able to go through your house confiscating your private things. You are charged, not found Guilty. This reminds me of the High River Gun Grab. Are we going to let this kind of high handed judge jury and executioner mentality continue. How about if it was you?????

BnR

Jan 16, 2014 at 8:01 am

If he’s claiming the FN aboriginal rights defence, wouldn’t that only be valid on Tahltan traditional territory rather than KDFN traditional territory?

Oh Please

Jan 16, 2014 at 8:15 am

As a First Nations person I find this completely and utterly ridiculous!!
No true First Nations person would have done what this idiot did.
This story just gets better by the day, I still hope they throw the book at him!

Fluke

Jan 16, 2014 at 8:50 am

Oh my god, this guys story changes every time and first nations should be disgusted by the fact that this “first nation” member is using his status to get out of wildlife convictions. If he truly thought it was within his rights under the Umbrella Final Agreement to shoot those wolves then he would have made that argument to begin with.
Last time I checked though discharging a firearm without due care to people or property, hunting within one kilometre of a residence without permission from occupants, possession of wildlife for the purpose of trafficking, and obstruction of a conservation officer through false statements or interference were not covered under the Umbrella Final Agreement. Oh ya, and last time I checked the TTC had settled land claims and still need to follow fish and wildlife laws outside of their traditional territory. Get a life Mr.Thomas and do what you said you were going to do and accept the responsibility rather then waste my tax dollars.

Duane Gastant' Aucoin

Jan 16, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Just to clarify.
Clayton Thomas & his family grew up in Teslin for many years, though they are not originally from here nor are they Citizens of Teslin Tlingit Council.
Gunalcheesh

Jack

Jan 16, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Clayton needs to speak to a lawyer who knows about these matters.  He will be informed that he has no strong arguments to defend his actions.  He has no other realistic option - except to plead guilty, accept his lumps from the court and [hopefully] learn to be respectful about firearms, wildlife and his neighbours. 
I don’t want Whitehorse to be a part of a community in which a person believes that he has a right to shoot wolves or anything else in his subdivision on the basis that he is defending himself and others.

Fluke

Jan 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm

@just Say’in

The CO’s were granted a search warrant by a judge. Sooo…the judge is the judge, the jury will probably be the judge and nobody is being executed. Just fined. The judge gave permission (search warrant which was released to the public) for the COs to collect evidence and so they did. Standard practice for all officers of the law not just of fish and wildlife. So gear down. If it was me this happened to, well…..it wouldn’t be because I’m not an idiot!

ally

Jan 16, 2014 at 5:34 pm

It doesn’t give him the right to shoot the wolves and broadcast it on a social media page, or on his phone. Hunter’s, trapper’s don’t shoot them for fun, and like everyone else on this page all of a sudden Clayton wants to be aboriginal when it’s convenient. If he’s going to hunt and trap then be like any other good trapper and do that on your trap line, not in a subdivision. Clayton needs to man up and own up to what he has done. He doesn’t even know his history or his culture.
Never heard of any FN doing that before, and he was doing it KDFN traditional territory, last I checked even if you are FN, you still need permission to hunt within any of the Yukon FN Traditional Territory, there is wolves in Teslin, where he is working hanging around town, surprisingly he is not out shooting them. Give it up Clayton, be a Man.

BnR

Jan 17, 2014 at 7:39 am

Just Say’in….
Except it wouldn’t have happened to us, because I’m guessing none of us posting here are that dumb, or irresponsible, to break these laws.
I’ve hunted all my life here, and have been a member of the Whitehorse Rifle and Pistol Club since the ‘70s and have never been in trouble with COs or otherwise once.
These sorts of things don’t just “happen”.  Clayton made a whole series of bad choices, and he now has to face the music.  I for one am glad that COs have the power to search and seize with a warrant.
I have nothing to hide, do you?

flyingfur

Jan 19, 2014 at 3:31 pm

He is not defending himself if he is standing in someone else’s driveway.  This kind of misplaced vigilantism can’t be tolerated and this nonsense about standing behind his FN rights is nothing but smoke and mirrors and he should be charged with contempt of court.  Hope they throw the book at this guy on the 24th.  Good work CO’s.

Mike Grieco

Jan 20, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Too bad wolves don’t have the right to defend themselves - as they were here first…

REALLY

Jan 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm

This guy thinks he is above the law. If he really wants to take a first nation defence then maybe he should live like a first nation man. He has no respect for the animals as you know he did have previous charges for wasting meat. He needs his hunting licence suspended for the rest of his life. He did not learn his lessson the first time he was convicted.

Always a Yukoner

Jan 22, 2014 at 3:21 pm

No Tahltan First Nation person would do what this Clayton thing did!  He’s a disrespectful human being and how dare he try and use his First Nations to get out of these crimes.  He is not on Tahltan territory and I am totally disgusted as a Tahltan First Nation he is using this as an excuse. 
I think his lawyer is grasping at straws, disgusting disgusting, that’s all I can say and I’m sure the rest of the Tahltan First Nations would feel the same way!!!

DMZ

Jan 22, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Guy doesn’t like to lose an argument. He doesn’t like the law. And he has lots of guns. Isn’t that great.

john gould

Jan 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Well unlike everyone else who seems to be a professional trapper, hunter, and criminal profiler, I would just like to say that first, Clayton Thomas has and, in my view, always will suffer from caring to much about other people.
As a electrician, Clayton has been known to come out in all weather and fix generators, rewire fire safety issues, and on many occasions not get paid for it. He has also been known to run drug dealers and their friends out of a certain area because his family and friends were being put in harms way.
So when Clayton Thomas whom has never thought of himself above a river bank wino, never mind the law, seen wolves roaming the area and being a lover of all animals and being VERY experienced in the bush and the loss of a pet to wolves, took it upon himself to eradicate the problem without giving it a second thought, and just so all of you are aware, the only thing left of your pet when the wolves come a calling is tufts of hair, blood and sometimes their head. But I’m betting none of you know that or your character assassination of a well rounded hard working successful young Yukoner who should be slapped on the wrist and maybe read the riot act for careless use of a firearm, instead of some wild man with no account for the law or his community because that is not or ever has been a accurate description of Clayton Thomas.
I am amazed that people who know nothing about a person can voice their opinion on him in such a negative way. Clayton and family, my family and I wish you all the luck in the world on your legal issue and believe that once the courts hear all the facts, things will work themselves out.
As for commenters stop hiding behind your online name and at least use your real name when you are attacking a man’s character. Head hunting and jealousy are ugly qualities to have but very clear to see

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