Tie Lake man fined for killing wildlife

Man sentenced to $14,000 fine, five-year hunting and firearms bans.

A Tie Lake man has been fined $14,000 and sentenced to hunting and firearms bans for five years after illegally shooting a deer and a black bear in his yard in separate incidents a few years ago.

Frank Velba, a 73-year-old retired electrician, was also issued a no contact order with a Tie Lake neighbour who confronted him after one shooting.

Velba, who was charged and pleaded guilty to a number of wildlife offences, used a .22 calibre rifle to shoot the whitetail deer in the gut after it ate flowers from his garden on Sept. 5, 2016.

Velba initially told Conservation Officers Services that he shot the deer with a .177 pellet gun, but admitted a month later to authorities it was with a more powerful .22 calibre, which he owned illegally without a valid firearms license.

In addition to the deer shooting, Velba’s fines also covered another incident in June 2015 where he killed a black bear by shooting it less than 20 feet away where it ran up a tree, fell down and died, according to a witness.

In a brief address to the Cranbrook Provincial Court chambers and Judge Lynal Doerksen, Velba apologized for his actions.

“I’m sorry it happened, it will never happen again,” Velba told the court. “I wish it never happened.”

The circumstances of the case were jointly presented to Judge Doerksen for consideration, while crown and defence lawyers argued over the size of the fines.

Doerksen said while nuisance deer are a problem in the East Kootenay, Velba’s actions were disturbing. Guilty pleas in the face of overwhelming evidence, along with no criminal history, were mitigating factors, however, misleading conservation officers was an aggravating factor, said Doerksen, noting Velba was lucky he wasn’t charged with obstruction.

“It’s an affront to the law and the regulations that he lied to the Conservation Officers, that he tried to deflect blame from himself,” said Doerksen.

Speaking to the Cranbrook Townsman after attending the sentencing, Perry Van Mill, a neighbour who lives across Tie Lake Shore Rd. from Velba, said he was inside his house when he heard what sounded like a gun shot.

“My daughter said, ‘Dad, somebody just shot a deer; I saw it,’” Van Mill said.

Van Mill left his house and immediately went over to confront Velba, adding that he witnessed Velba putting a gun away in his garage. His daughter went over to try and comfort the deer, which took approximately 20 minutes to die.

Van Mill then went and called the authorities.

Velba’s lawyer argued his client didn’t want to finish off the deer with another shot because the initial gunshot attracted bystanders that made the area unsafe for discharging a firearm.

Van Mill said he was satisfied with the sentencing.

“Excellent, I think so,” Van Mill said. “…The judge was smart, he figured it out. He knew what was going on.”

In addition to the deer incident, Velba also pleaded guilty to shooting a bear in June 2015.

According to the joint submission, another neighbour witnessed Velba shoot a black bear from less than 20 feet away that ran up a tree, fell out and died.

A percentage of Velba’s fines will be directed to the Habitat Conservation Fund.

Just Posted

Nelson has West Kootenay’s cheapest gas prices

The cost rises significantly outside the city

Selkirk students pay it forward with pizza

The adult special education program is buying slices for those in need

Dance Fusion: ‘smooth, entertaining and emotional’

250-dancer showcase includes a piece by a group of young dancers and their fathers

Nelson figure skaters visit Enchanted Forest

The club held its annual year-end show on April 15

PHOTOS: Nelson Rhythm Ropers skip to success at provincials

The team won 56 medals last weekend at L.V. Rogers

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

Ailing health care biggest hurdle for Okanagan jail

PART SIX: Inmates reportedly wait weeks for broken bones to be seen, challenges with maintaining medical staff

Police searching for escaped prisoner in B.C.

Ralph Whitfield Morris, 83, is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder

B.C. set to introduce pot laws, but years of fine tuning likely: minister

Legislation regulating recreational marijuana is expected to be introduced Thursday

Canadian driver uses lawn chair as driver’s seat, gets caught

Ontario police detachment caught the male driver during a traffic stop

B.C. moves to restrict pill presses in opioid battle

Minister Mike Farnworth says federal law doesn’t go far enough

VIDEO: Vets, volunteers set up vaccination station for sick bunnies

Volunteers, vets try to stop spread of lethal virus

Most Read