CALGARY – A backcountry lodge in Banff National Park has run a-fowl with Parks Canada and has been fined $27,000 for destroying several migratory bird nests in 2016.
Simpson's Num-Ti-Jah Lodge located on Highway 93 North was handed down the fine by Provincial Court Judge Paul Mason in Calgary on June 27 after it pleaded guilty to one charge under the Migratory Birds Convention Act and a Canada National Parks Act charge.
The 16-room lodge took responsibility for destroying barn swallow nests that had been built by several family groups of the birds in the summer of 2016. In November 2017, barn swallows were designated as a threatened species under the federal Species at Risk Act.
Federal Crown prosecutor Jane Conly told the judge that in August 2016 Park Wardens were at the lodge when they observed several distinct groups of barn swallow families in the rafters of the lodge's roof, but no nests.
"Barn swallows nest in and on artificial structures, including barns, outbuildings, garages, houses and bridges ... and they nest in small colonies consisting of no more than 10 pairs usually," Conly said. "(Park Wardens) observed three distinct family groups of barn swallows and fledglings sheltering under the eaves of the main lodge building without nests.
"Upon inquiring with two staff employed at the lodge, they admitted they removed the barn swallow nests from the lodge earlier that day. They had been instructed to do so by the lodge innkeeper."
Conly said wardens found evidence of four nests, one egg and one fledgling that had been destroyed as a result of the nests being removed.
Defence counsel for the company B.J. Pierce asked for three years to pay the fine and agreed to a special sentencing request by the Crown.
The sentencing set out that Num-Ti-Jah shall publish an article in a local newspaper about its experience and provide the general public with information on how to remove barn swallow nests appropriately.
"Obviously this is an unfortunate circumstance," said Mason. "It sounds like more damage was done from not knowing the regulations."
Under the migratory bird regulations it is an offence for anyone to kill, hunt, capture, injure, harass, take or disturb a migratory bird or to damage, destroy, remove, or disturb a migratory bird nest, eggs or shelter without a permit.
As a result of the two guilty pleas, Simpson's Num-Ti-Jah has also been added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.