The province’s action to address illegal hunting has resulted in the conviction of four Cheticamp area men. The convictions came after a 14-month undercover operation by the Department of Natural Resources into poaching in three counties. The men pleaded guilty recently to 32 separate charges under the Wildlife Act and Wilderness Areas Protection Act. “This investigation and subsequent convictions will hopefully act as a deterrent to those who feel inclined to break wildlife protection, safe hunting and wilderness area protection laws,” said Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker. The convictions come with fines totalling $17,600, a loss of hunting equipment, and five-year hunting licence suspensions. Richard Claude Aucoin, 38, was guilty of six charges and fined $5,849; Richard Bruce Fraser, 53, was fined $4,237 for seven convictions; Patrick John Timmons, 41, was fined $6,792 for 16 convictions and Joseph Chester Leblanc, 53, was fined $740 for three convictions, including illegally possessing deer. Mr. Aucoin, Mr. Fraser and Mr. Timmons all exceeded the bag limit for deer and Mr. Timmons was also guilty of illegally hunting moose and antlerless deer. “The department’s enforcement staff did an outstanding job on this investigation, and have made a big impact on poaching in the province,” said Tony Rodgers, executive director of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters. “We hope this case sends a clear message to others that this type of activity won’t be tolerated.” The successful investigation and subsequent convictions came as a result of assistance from the public. “This case demonstrates the need for the general public, including the hunting community, to assist conservation officers in addressing wildlife crime,” said John Mombourquette, director of enforcement with Natural Resources. “Timely information was an important factor in this case and allowed us to place our efforts and resources in the right areas.” The public are encouraged to report wildlife and other natural resource protection violations at 1-800-565-2224 or [email protected] .