An Alberta judge fined a B.C. man $6,000 Wednesday for illegally catching eight cutthroat trout in Banff National Park as part of a YouTube survival challenge nearly four years ago.
Outdoor survivalists Greg Ovens of Canal Flats, B.C., and Zachary Fowler, an American citizen, filmed part of the “30 Day Survival Challenge in the Canadian Rockies” YouTube video series in the national park in July 2019.
Parks Canada wardens laid several charges in February 2022 against both men, who met while they were contestants on the History Channel TV show “Alone.”
Warrants are outstanding for Fowler, but Ovens agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of illegal fishing under the National Parks Act.
Justice Eric Tolppanen of the Alberta Court of Justice disagreed with the Crown position that the accused was attempting to financially benefit from his actions.
He gave credit to Ovens for an early guilty plea and for attempting to have the videos removed, but said it’s a serious matter.
“A total of eight of the protected species of fish were taken from the lake. It’s aggravating that natural bait was used. This type of bait is prohibited as it risks the introduction to lakes of invasive species, including the microscopic parasite that causes whirling disease,” Tolppanen said Wednesday.
“I do find, however, his conduct to have been reckless. As part of the Survival Challenge, he clearly planned to live for a significant period of time in an area familiar to him within the boundaries of Banff National Park.”
The Crown had proposed an $8,000 fine, or $1,000 per fish, but Tolpannen decided instead to require Ovens to post details of his plea and sentence to the YouTube channel where the videos are located and send a letter to YouTube’s parent company.
Tolpannen has given Ovens six months to pay his fine but wants notice of his posting his sentence on YouTube and a note to Google LLC sent to the Crown for approval within two weeks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2023.