Media release: NHL's Clayton Stoner in court today on multiple charges for grizzly killing

Will there be justice for Cheeky?

Raincoast Conservation Foundation

For Release: October 9, 2015

Sidney, British Columbia: NHL defenseman Clayton Stoner is appearing in court today to face multiple charges regarding his widely publicized and controversial trophy killing of a well-known grizzly bear – Cheeky- in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.

In 2013, after a Guardian Watchman from the Heiltsuk Nation observed and recorded the incident, Raincoast Conservation Foundation asked the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (the entity responsible for managing the trophy hunting of bears), to investigate Stoner’s killing of a grizzly on the central coast. The BC Conservation Officer Service subsequently investigated Stoner’s killing of the grizzly bear in question.

“There was widespread concern regarding the circumstances surrounding this particular hunt, including uncertainty as to whether Stoner was even a BC resident. If he was not, then he shouldn’t have been issued a BC Resident Hunter Number card nor should he have been allowed to enter the Limited Entry Hunt (LEH) lottery to kill a grizzly,” said Raincoast executive director Chris Genovali. “Could it be that Stoner is poised to potentially become the Canadian version of Walter Palmer?”

The case will likely centre on Stoner’s residency. As the province’s website states, “Participation in the LEH draw is available to any resident of BC who legally possesses a BC Resident Hunter Number.” To obtain a BC Resident Hunter Number and Resident Hunter Number card an individual must prove they are a resident. The legal definition of a BC resident is a person who “is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, whose only or primary residence is in British Columbia, and has been physically present in British Columbia for the greater portion of each of six calendar months out of the 12 calendar months immediately preceding the date of making an application under this Act or doing another thing relevant to the operation of this Act.”

Stoner has been playing for US hockey teams in the NHL for many years. As such, he is required to live and work in the US most of the year. The NHL regular season runs from October through mid-April. That doesn’t count time spent at training camp prior to the regular season or potential participation in the playoffs. Given the length of the NHL season and the fact Stoner plays for a US based team (and has played for US based teams in the NHL, AHL and WHL since 2002), many people are closely watching how the residency issue will play out.

“We applaud the BC Conservation Officer Service for bringing these charges forward. Stoner’s trophy killing also occurred within Raincoast’s commercial hunting/guide outfitting tenure. If Stoner was ‘guided’ on his trophy hunt, then he was guided illegally, as Raincoast holds the exclusive guiding rights in the area of the central coast where Cheeky was killed,” said Brian Falconer, Raincoast’s guide outfitter coordinator. “We wonder whether this is the first grizzly Stoner has killed and whether his past trophy hunting activity should be investigated as well.”

Contact: Chris Genovali 250-888-3579/chris [at] raincoast [dot] org, Brian Falconer 250-715-6024/brian [at] raincoast [dot] org