By Cam Fortems
Kamloops This Week
Calling shooting of a bull moose “brazen,” a provincial court judge Thursday found one of two men guilty of illegally killing and abandoning the animal.
Xin Xiao was found guilty after trial of illegal hunting out of season, possession of an animal and abandoning the bull moose at the side of a logging road in the Nicola Valley in October 2013.
He was fined about $8,500, with $4,000 of that going to the provincial Habitat Conservation Trust Fund.
“I don’t believe a third party killed the moose and Mr. Xiao came upon the moose and decided to take it,” judge Chris Cleaveley said in his decision.
Cleaveley ruled Xiao said “yeah” to another hunter when asked him if he killed the bull moose.
That hunter, Kyle Carusi, testified at the trial.
Both Xiao, represented by defence lawyer Kevin Walker, and co-accused Wei Li, defended by Fred Kaatz, used an interpreter during the trial and did not testify themselves.
Cleaveley found the Crown did not have enough evidence to convict Li of the same three offences, nor of hunting without a special licence needed for a non-resident.
The Crown’s case was built on circumstantial evidence.
Two deer hunters who came across a dead bull moose at the side of the road testified when they returned to the same logging road later, they saw two Asian men with a Ford Raptor truck backed up to the moose.
Carusi said they appeared to be using a winch to get the moose — not yet field dressed or gutted — into the truck.
A surveillance camera at a gas station in Merritt recorded Xiao and Li the morning before the moose was found.
Food and gas receipts from Merritt the day before were also found inside the Ford pickup.
During trial, Carusi testified the two men beside the moose immediately stopped as he and his father rolled up in their pickup.
Carusi said the two acted “shifty” while beside the moose.
“It’s reasonable to infer Mr. Xiao and the other man realized they’d been caught red-handed,” Cleaveley said.
Conservation officers tracked the Ford pickup to a Vancouver home.
They seized the truck and a trailer.
Xiao, 49, had a “much stronger connection to the Ford Raptor,” Cleaveley said.
Inside that pickup, registered to a woman from Vancouver, they found Xiao’s Canadian passport, as well as a wallet with his driver’s and hunting licence and credit cards.
Conservation officers used DNA to link the moose to blood found on a jacket in the truck.
Cleaveley found it was Xiao’s jacket.
Following the Wildlife Act charges, the civil forfeiture office applied successfully to have the Ford Raptor sold, with half the $48,000 proceeds going to the Crown.
In addition to the approximately $8,500 in fines, Xiao forfeited two guns found in the truck.
He is also prohibited from hunting for two years.
Walker urged Cleaveley to reduce the fine from the $10,000 requested by the Crown because his client, a building property manager who earns about $40,000 to $50,000 a year, has a limited ability to pay.
Xiao rents an apartment in Burnaby he shares with his wife and child.