Convicted poacher offers extra $30K to stay out of jail

Convicted poacher offers extra $30K to stay out of jail

A Yukon poacher who killed an unprecedented number of big game animals says he'll pay a larger fine, and agree to never hunt in Yukon again, if he can avoid jail time.

Jonathan Ensor, 34, pleaded guilty last week to a string of wildlife charges laid against him after a 2015 raid on his property near Whitehorse. Conservation officers seized a bison, an elk, a mule deer, a Dall sheep, a caribou, an eagle and other game birds, all of which had been hunted illegally.

Yukon prosecutors are seeking a six month jail term for Ensor, along with a $15,000 fine to be paid to the territory's "Turn In Poachers and Polluters" (TIPP) fund. They're also urging a 20 year hunting ban.

A six month jail sentence for poaching would be unprecedented in Yukon. The longest term cited by prosecutors was a 45-day sentence delivered to a Dawson City man, years ago. 

At his sentencing hearing in Yukon territorial court on Tuesday, Ensor argued for a different sentence. He says he'll pay $45,000 to the TIPP fund, and agree to never hunt in Yukon again, if he can serve time in the community instead of jail.

He says he'll contribute $1,000 per month to the fund until it's paid, if he's allowed to continue his construction job in Whitehorse.    

"My boss depends on me to be at work," Ensor told the court.

At the hearing, Ensor submitted a number of letters of support from Yukon employers. He also told judge Michael Cozens he killed the animals for food to subsidize the high cost of living in the Yukon.

But he also said he's changed his ways since the arrest, and plans to raise his own food on a homestead he's now pursuing in the Marsh Lake area. 

Judge Cozens says Ensor will definitely serve time — either behind bars or in the community. He's adjourned sentencing until Jan. 20.