Author Topic: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs  (Read 6020 times)

Paul

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Well went out west of Rocky Mountain House today, saw a shooter chasing a doe, but couldn't get a shot. Only saw one other dink buck. Anyway on the way back there was a huge checkstop between Rocky and Sylvan Lake. I got through unscathed they were picking randoms when there were slots available. Was RCMP, Fish cops and Sheriffs. Although I didn't get checked I was thinking about it a bit on the way home. What rights does a person have in that situation? I called my dad who was a cop for 17 years but he didn't seem to know much, maybe he was a rights violator back in the day lol

Ok scenario. A fish cop pulls you in. The first thing they tend to do is establish that you are hunting, generally by saying "how's the hunting?" or "see anything good?", pretty obvious baiting question, but effective. So he asks:

"Are you hunting"

"No I'm driving"

"Were you hunting today?"

"No"

Now in my opinion that should be where their authority ends shouldn't it? Their concern is the wildlife act. Now I suppose if a guy seems drunk or something they have the obligation to call the cops in, but if there doesn't appear to be any issues then that should be the end of it.

"Do you have any firearms in the vehicle"
 
"Yes I have an unrestricted rifle in a case in the back of my crew cab"

Now at that point they will ask to check the firearm. But do they actually have the authority to do so? It is not against the law to have a rifle with you.

"Can I check your rifle?"

"Yes, I will get it for you"

"No, that's fine stay in your vehicle and just unlock the back door for me"

Now I am bringing this up because years ago when fish cops first got handguns I had a bad experience where I was trying to hand my rifle butt end out the door so they could check it and a fish cop put his hand on his pistol like he was going to pull it out and shoot me, scared the shit out of me.

From my experience, there has been no crime commited, there is no just cause, there is no warrant, therefore a peace office has no right to enter your vehicle without consent, correct me if I am wrong.

So I guess the questions are if it has not been established that you are hunting what rights do the fish cops have to detain you any longer, even if you have an unrestricted weapon?

And the other question is what right does a fish cop, or any cop for that matter, have to enter your vehicle without just cause or a warrant, even if you have a cased rifle in your truck. Perhaps they could ask for a PAL, but having a rifle is not a crime.

sheepguide

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 08:18:17 PM »
Not sure the rules and what the F+W limitations are but i had a confrontation with an officer this year and he tried to reach over me and get my gun to check. I politly said ill show you as i dont let just anyone handle my rifle. He kinda questioned me and then I asked him what he would do if he bumped or dropped my $5000 hunting rifle? He thought for a second and politly said back maybe its best if I show him. We had a good laugh over it.
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wildmeat

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 08:34:49 PM »
they cant search your truck unless you give them verbal permission "or" and heres the dinger.... if they have" reason to beleive" which pretty much gives them authority to do so no matter what... they could make something up silly as they had a feeling .. or saw something that didnt look right... but in the usa its alot different... they can search your car if they have reason to beleive but if anything is locked... such as your glove box, trunk, or any case you have with a lock on it they have to get a warrant to do so

AxeMan

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 09:19:04 PM »
I think they have all their bases covered when they have Fish and Wildlife officers, RCMP, and the Sheriffs there at these checks.  They can pretty much cover anything from wildlife offences to DUIs to vehicle equipment offences.  I have been thru a few of these and it seems they are mostly concerned with checking that the rifles are safe.  Straight forward cooperation usually means no problems.  My buddy's gruff old dad once gave them the "I am driving routine" and they checked his vehicle and trailer thoroughly and ended giving him a ticket for a burnt out trailer light.  He went to court and beat it saying the fish cop was in and out of the trailer unloading stuff so much he tore a wire off.  The judge lectured the fish cop and told him not to bring this petty crap into his courtroom again.

Paul, I think the law is that they cannot search your vehicle without your consent and if you pushed it they could get a warrant but need probable cause like Wildmeat said.  I think these hiway game checks are the lazy way for F&W to conduct law enforcement.  Get out there and catch the poachers in the act, don't harass tired hunters on their way home from hunting.  I am probably wrong on that though.  They probably issue more tickets at these stops.
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Paul

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 11:19:57 PM »
Well I am not talking about a search per say, what I am wondering about is their legal right to enter your vehicle and handle your property without consent. If you offer to allow them to check your rifle you aren't authorizing them entry to your vehicle. What's the problem with getting the rifle out (without some wingnut with a handgun acting like he's going to shoot you) and passing it over to them. I don't think that's belligerent, I think its important to exercise your rights to keep things in check. I have had F&W officers simply ask me to open the breech so they can visually confirm its not loaded, but when its stored in the back of the crew cab what then? They really have no right to enter your vehicle to check without consent. 

diamonddave

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2011, 11:35:29 AM »
You are right Paul. What they do is ask evasive questions so that you will give them consent to enter your vehicle. Politly tell them you will retrieve the fire arm after confirming for yourself that the weapon is unloaded. Let them inspect it and end of story. With out your consent they have no buisness opening any doors and going threw your vehicle. Not saying we have anything to hide, but once you give consent there is nothing we can do.

wildmeat

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2011, 01:03:28 PM »
they can pretty much do whatever they want  :-\ .... like axeman said is just cooperate and get it over with as fast as you can...  all they have to say in court for a reason for searching your vehicle was they caught a scent of alcohol or marijuana... that gives them the right to search anything they want... it sucks that we have absolutely no privacy anymore but thats just the way it is i guess

Paul

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2011, 01:10:17 PM »
I have to disagree wildmeat, I don't think they can do whatever they want and I believe that most of them are aware of that. If that's the case we have a huge problem with our society.

wildmeat

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2011, 01:33:33 PM »
i want to disagree with what i said too but everytime i do and even question their authority it always seems to make it tougher on myself... i do everything by the book and totally legal... i dont even speed ... i was pulled over by f&w a couple years ago and the officer asked me if he could search my truck... i said dont you need a warrant to do that... he went back to his truck and waited for an rcmp officer to show up came back and said sir can you please step out... i said why i havent done anything wrong i already showed you my firearm and my license and tags... he said no sir i can smell marijuana inside your cab... well i assured them that never has nor never will there be the scent of marijuana in my truck because i havent touched the shit since a high school dance back in 94 and it made me so paranoid that i never touched it again... but they went through my truck searched high and low and then proceeded to give me a ticket because my license plate light was out... have a nice day he says and drives away... now if i had just let him look at what was on my back seat under the blanket i wouldnt have been able to drive away in minutes... not hours...  i guess all im saying is your damned if you do and your damned if you dont

rightwing

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2011, 04:37:40 PM »
For situations like this it may be a good idea to have a personal recording device. I have never been stopped by F&W and have often thought about what I would say if they wanted to search my vehical for no reason, its bad enough to be stopped for no reason but to be searched is just wrong in my books. I would be a little more inclined to say no if the conversation was recorded. My mother (my kids grandmother) went through a F&W check stop in a Honda Civic no way she would be mistaken for a hunter and they searched her vehical. My mother didn't really care but it pee'd me off when I heard about it.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 04:42:09 PM by rightwing »

Paul

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2011, 04:50:31 PM »
Sounds like you got the asshole poster boy of law enforcement Wildmeat. I think you should have filed a complaint.

I hope people don't get me wrong here, I don't think being beligerant with the cops is a good idea, but I also believe sometimes boundaries that shouldn't be crossed get crossed.

wildmeat

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2011, 05:52:31 PM »
i agree with you fully paul... but if a guy does go file a complaint i find that then they or their fellow constables and officers are always on the lookout for you and try to get you with every minor thing they can... its sad really and ive seen it happen to a few freinds of mine

nube

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2011, 10:37:37 PM »
They are all dinks and will get you no matter what you do :o 8)
I don't trust any of them.  They play nice at first to snare you into hwat they want

rightwing

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2011, 11:56:41 PM »
F&W catch very few people for hunting or fishing infractions. I think there disappointed when they check you and don't find anything.

Weste

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 12:53:19 PM »
Not sure about what has gone on in the past but I do know the Fish and Wildlife officers (and department in general) are making a concerted effort to eliminate these types of stereotypes in Lethbridge.  The local officers have been quite open and inviting with a willingness to offer advance and interpretation of the rules and how they enforce them.  Recently I witnessed some idiots fighting over an elk in 305 (posted a blurb here) and was later stopped by the local CO as he was in the area and checking licences.  While I had him there, we queried him on a few of the new rules and found him quite helpful.  I even admitted that I interpretted one of the rules differently and had violated it in the past.  He was very helpful and I used his interpretation to ensure I wasnt breaking a rule in the future.  Again he was quite friendly and helpful even when he became aware that I had broke a rule in the past. 

For the past few years, the Southern Alberta Bowhunters Association has been working with the local biologist on numerous projects and we have always supported safe and ethical hunting.  We have invited the CO's to our annual banquet and have got to know quite a few of them.  They have been even generous enough to donate a few items to the raffles and I was lucky enough to receive an SRD logo'ed skinning knife a couple years ago. 

While I agree that everyone has their rights, I don't believe classifying all CO's negatively is justified because of the actions of 1 or 2 of them.  At the end of the day, Fish and Wildlife departments are underfunded and undermanned while being tasked with maintaining the safety of the wildgame populations that we all enjoy.  I believe the best way we can maintain our wildlife populations and hunting heritage is to work with the different arms of the government, whether it be policing or policy making.

My 2 cents anyway.


wildmeat

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2011, 05:04:58 PM »
your right weste... its definitely not every co because i have had many more positive experiences with them than negative... but there are a handful that go about things totally wrong... this handfull has to remember that they are public servants and if a guy is blatantly and obviously not doing anything wrong he should be sent on his way and the said co should carry on looking for people who are breaking the law.... just my 2 cents

AxeMan

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2011, 05:52:24 PM »
I have hope things are changing in F&W enforcement as well as Weste pointed out in his post.  I had very positive dealings with 2 excellent F&W officers in the area I hunted this fall.  They checked us for legality which was all fine without asking to invade our privacy and went out of their way to help us out in our hunt. They provided access to some closed motor vehicle areas after we had an animal down by letting us take quads in to retreive the game after we hunted on foot as per the rules.  All we had to do was properly notify them with one quick cell phone call.  They even notified the grazing manager for us to let him know we were taking quads in to retreive an elk.  I will even mention their names because they are great officers and deserve the recognition.  Way to go Chuck and Derek.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 06:31:49 PM by AxeMan »
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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2011, 10:12:46 AM »
Here was part of a thread on this topic from the "OTHER" forum.  I thought this response should be shared here for you all...

Quote:
gets a little complicated with Fish and Wildlife Officers as I believe they have more search and seizure authority than the police or peace officers in the Province.

If you read sections 71, 72 and 74 of the Wildlife Act, you'll see what I'm talking about.
Sorry, absolutely not. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms supercedes all other laws.

This law may actually not be valid if it were written the way you think it is.

But...it's not.

Here, read:

Quote:
if the officer or guardian believes on reasonable and probable
grounds that there is in or on it any evidence of an offence against
this Act.
In other words, they have to have reasonable and probable grounds. This means that if they search without your permission, they must be prepared to explain to a judge what their reasonable grounds were for suspecting that you have committed an offense. AND that they did not have time to get a warrant from a judge because evidence was in immediate danger of being destroyed.

If they cannot demonstrate that successfully to a judge, then they have conducted an illegal search.

This is the same standard applied to any LEO and this act grants them no special powers.




To all people who are ill informed about their rights:


When pulled over, do not answer any questions about where you have been, where you are going, what you have been doing. You are not required to answer any questions. You are required to provide your license, registration etc.

Ask the officer:

Am I being detained? Am I under arrest?

Am I free to go?

If they tell you that you are being detained, they must provide a reason.

Do not consent to any searches.

Simply say 'I do not consent to any searches.' and nothing else.



These simple steps force and LEO to make a decision. If he is going to search you or your vehicle without your permission or a warrant, then he must be able to demonstrate to a judge that he had reasonable grounds to believe you had committed an offense AND that there was evidence which would be lost if he applied for a warrant. That's a hard standard to meet.

It also forces the LEO to decide if you are being legally detained rather than simply having a conversation. Being detained and arrested also requires a burden to the LEO which he would need to explain to a judge or you are being detained/arrested illegally.


Remember, when you are pulled over the LEO is not your friend. They can lie and use tricks to get you to incriminate yourself. They will pretend to be your friend or be on your side.

They will tell you if you cooperate that they can help you out.

They will ask you what you have to hide? If you did nothing wrong, then why are you afraid of them looking in your vehicle?

They will tell you that they will get a warrant and turn your world up side down so why not just co-operate? If you have nothing to hide it will be over shortly. If they have to get a warrant, things will get ugly and they will no longer be able to help you.

They will try to chat with you about all kinds of topics hoping you will give them something which might give them reasonable suspicion.

Do not talk to them except:

"-I do not consent to any searches.
-Am I being detained or arrested?
-Am I free to go?"

This will stop an LEO in their tracks unless they already have probably grounds.

They will say all of the above to you. They are trained to use these tactics. Simply say nothing except those three statements.

Do not let a threat of getting a warrant worry you. They cannot get a warrant from a judge unless they already have reasonable suspicion. A judge must see reasonable suspicion that you have committed an offense in order to grant a warrant.




----



If the LEO does not already have reasonable suspicion that he can explain to a judge, and you give him nothing, he has nothing. The answer to the question 'am I being detained? Am I free to go?' will eventually be, yes, you are free to go.


Also, begin audio recording on your phone immediately.



Quote:
The officer may have had "reasonable and probable grounds" to do the search, they're just not required to share them with the person being searched or the general public unless compelled in court, I'm assuming.
Right, of course. If the LEO insists on doing a search after you've said that you don't consent, then the matter will be sorted out in court at a later date. Do not physically resist.

Paul

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2011, 06:21:26 PM »
So I was listening to CHED today and they have this cop chat show with these 2 cops that answer questions so I called in. I posed the question and they danced around with some rhetoric for awhile but stated that you have every right to refuse any sort of entry or search into your vehicle. They can't search without a warrant without just cause, and if they do they have to tell you why they feel justified to search. Having an unrestricted weapon in the back of your vehicle does not justify them entering the vehicle. You can flat out refuse allowing them entry to check it. Furthermore I asked them if they were comfortable with the driver retrieving the weapon for them to look at, which they stated they would not be. Therefore I could see a stalemate situation occurring if that wouldn't be allowed. At the end of the discussion they stated you have every right to refuse. Managed to plug Alberta Sportsman twice during our chat too. After our chat they went on about a called who complained about seeing some guys head being slammed into a car by RCMP and it was a big sob about how hard and stressful their jobs are and they compared themselves to a cranky grocery cashier lol. The only issue with that is grocery cashiers don't have guns and the ability to make your life hell.

Mini-moose

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Re: Legal Limitations of Alberta Fish and Wildlife, RCMP, and Sheriffs
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2011, 11:11:11 AM »
Here is the info. right from the wildlife act.

Inspection of weapons, ammunition and projectiles
70(1) If a weapon, ammunition or projectile or any part of it
(a) is in or on a vehicle, aircraft or boat or is being
transported on an animal or by a person who is on foot,
and
(b) is in plain view of a wildlife officer or wildlife guardian,
the officer or guardian may require the person who is or who
appears to be in possession of that weapon or other thing to
produce it for the purpose of inspection to determine whether it is
there in circumstances constituting a danger to public safety or
whether or not it is possessed in accordance with this Act.
(2) When an officer or guardian requires a person to produce
anything for inspection under subsection (1), that person shall
forthwith produce it to the officer or guardian.

Search, etc., without warrant
71(1) If distance, urgency, the imminent danger of the loss,
removal, destruction or disappearance of evidence or other relevant
factors do not reasonably permit the obtaining of a warrant, a
wildlife officer or wildlife guardian may, without obtaining a
warrant,
(a) enter into and search any premises or a place, vehicle,
aircraft, boat or a building, tent or other structure,
(a.1) search any land lawfully entered on under section 66, or
(b) search any container, including a pack, or any
pack-animal,
if the officer or guardian believes on reasonable and probable
grounds that there is in or on it any evidence of an offence against
this Act.

Interpret it how you like.