Rodolfo Lopes, first misidentified in court records as Martins-Lopes, has pleaded guilty to charges surrounding his attack of a deer swimming in the Douglas Channel in Kitimat, British Columbia.
On the way back from a celebratory boating trip this past May, Lopes and others sighted a deer swimming not far from their charter boat. Crown Counsel Corrine Baerg told Metro News that as the operator of the boat approached the animal, Lopes proceeded to hit the deer on the head with a “jig or gaff” and tried to haul it on board. Luckily, the deer escaped to shore and took off into the bush. What happened to the animal is unknown.
B.C. Conservation officers were made aware of the attack by Kitimat residents, who came across a video of the fishing trip on Facebook. A cellphone video of the event was voluntarily surrendered by one of the men on the boat, while other evidence was collected under a search warrant.
Not a Canadian resident, Lopes was arrested and held in custody before being granted bail and allowed to return to his home in Portugal. While the fine for his actions may only be $1, Lopes has been ordered to donate his $5000 bail to the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund.
He has also been prohibited from approaching wildlife for two years, and charged under the B.C. Wildlife Act with intimidating wildlife with a motor vehicle and hunting swimming wildlife. Under the criminal code, Lopes was charged with causing pain and suffering to an animal.
Lopes did not appear in court, but was represented by Vancouver lawyer Don Sorochan. Sorochan told the court that Lopes was not acquainted with Canadian wildlife and hunting law, and that the man acted on a “naive impluse” in an attempt to “act macho.”
Lopes and the passengers of the boat were celebrating Lopes’ approaching wedding in August, as well as the completion of their work on the Rio Tinto aluminum smelter in Kitimat. Lopes is a supervisor for a subcontractor working on the multi-billion dollar renovation project, which will increase aluminum production, and in turn, boost sulphur dioxide emissions by 56 percent. The approval of the project’s permit has stirred up controversy surrounding its environmental impact.
Lopes’s $5000 forced donation will be put toward conservation efforts in the Kitimat area.