A Canadian man pled guilty on Wednesday to violating a federal hunting restriction in Jasper National Park, CBC News reports. The violation stems from an incident that took place in August 2022, when he brought a shotgun into the park and shot a black bear with it.
Serge Painchaud, a 42-year-old Edmonton resident, claimed in court that he didn’t know it was against the law to carry a firearm in a national park. He said he brought the shotgun along and decided to use it because he was “scared.”
Justice Rosanna Saccomani soundly rejected this defense and ordered Painchaud to pay a fine of $7,500, or roughly $5,640 USD, within a year. (The prosecuting attorney pushed for heftier fines and a two-year probation on owning firearms, but the court was lenient because Painchaud cooperated and had no criminal record.)
“[That] would apply to pretty much every single person in your situation,” Saccomani told Painchaud. “We’re all afraid of bears.”
According to court records, Painchaud and two friends set out to hike the Overlander Trail on the morning of Aug. 6. He brought a Mossberg Model 510 20 gauge, which he carried loaded and openly on the trail.
At some point, after crossing paths with several other hikers, Painchaud decided to turn around and hike back alone while his friends continued on. Around 12:15 p.m., he came across a black bear that was roughly 100 feet away on the far side of a creek.
Painchaud then “became scared” and fired a warning shot in the bear’s direction. The bear shuddered and took a few steps forward, at which point Painchaud fired a second shot, striking the bear. The black bear rolled down a bank and ran off into the woods.
One of Painchaud’s friends heard the two shots and called park wardens, who came to investigate. They discovered two empty shotgun shells along with traces of blood at the scene, but the bear was never found.
“Injured bears can be very aggressive when encountered in close quarters, so any further searches must be approached with extreme caution,” Parks Canada said at the time, pointing out that a wounded black bear is even scarier than a healthy one.