LAKE LOUISE – A man has been fined $1,500 for having a firearm and threatening to use it at a Lake Louise campground last month.
Douglas Ochitwa, from Calgary, was camping at the Waterfowl Lakes Campground on July 23 when an interaction with neighbouring campers about their loud generator led to the neighbours calling RCMP over Ochitwa's open firearm.
"The accused was carrying a Mossberg International model 715T rifle, out in the open at his campsite," Federal crown prosecutor Jeremy Newton said in the Canmore Provincial Courthouse on Wednesday (Sept. 4).
"The Lake Louise RCMP was dispatched to the location after the accused uttered threats to the neighbouring campsite occupants ... they believed their generator was threatened."
Ochitwa self-represented himself in court, pleading guilty in front of Judge B.R. Fraser.
The Calgary man admitted he was cleaning his gun at his campsite, but said he did not realize it was illegal to have a gun exposed in a national park.
Judge Fraser said ignorance is no excuse to the law.
Under the National Parks Wildlife Regulations section 20 (1) no person shall be in possession of a firearm in a park unless the firearm is not loaded and is transported in a case, or is wrapped and tied securely in such a manner that no part of the firearm is exposed.
"The accused was not carrying the rifle when he made the threats, but the occupants had seen the rifle being carried by the accused earlier," Newton explained in court.
"The Parks Canada employee [also] provided a statement in which she stated the accused was carrying a firearm while talking to her."
The Crown prosecutor also noted the gun would create "fear and concern" as it looks like a semi-automatic rifle.
Ochitwa acknowledged the firearm is a semi-automatic, but due to the model type, the Mossberg International is considered a non-restricted firearm under the Firearms Act in the Criminal Code.
Newton suggested a $1,500 fine to which Ochitwa and the Judge agreed with the monies to go towards the Environmental Damages Fund.
Ochitwa also forfeited the rifle.