NHL defenseman Clayton Stoner has been charged in his native British Columbia with numerous offenses in connection with the killing of a grizzly bear two years ago while he was a member of the Minnesota Wild.
Stoner, now about to start his second season with the Anaheim Ducks, was charged in provincial court with two counts of making a false statement to obtain a hunting license, hunting without a license, hunting out of season and unlawful possession of a dead wildlife animal.
The charges are based on the contention that Stoner did not meet the residency requirements for the hunt in May 2013 because he was with the Wild and living out of the province for a majority of the time leading up to when he shot the bear.
“Mr. Stoner’s primary residence had to be in B.C., and he had to be physically present residing in B.C. for six of the 12 months preceding the date of the grizzly bear hunt in May 2013,” said Cynthia Mann, detective-sergeant of the provincial Conservation Officer Service’s major investigation unit.
“Our investigation has concluded that Mr. Stoner has allegedly failed to meet the residency requirements” Mann continued. “As such, the application for the limited-entry hunt and the physical hunt and harvest of wildlife under these particular circumstances was unlawful.”
Stoner, 30, is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 9, one day before the Ducks’ season opener in San Jose against the Sharks.
Stoner shot the 5-year-old male grizzly, known as Cheeky and with a reputation for being comfortable around tourists’ cameras, near Bella Bella, in the Kwatna estuary about 400 miles up the Pacific coast from Vancouver.
Soon after Cheeky was killed, a photo of Stoner holding the severed head of a grizzly surfaced in the Vancouver Sun online, prompting Stoner to issue a detailed statement through the Wild explaining his actions.
“I grew up hunting and fishing in British Columbia and continue to enjoy spending time with my family outdoors,” read the statement from Stoner, whose hometown is Port McNeill. “I applied for and received a grizzly bear hunting license through a British Columbia limited-entry lottery … and shot a grizzly bear with my license while hunting with my father, uncle and a friend in May. I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia.”
Members of the Coastal First Nations tribe are upset by Cheeky’s killing during the spring bear hunt season because it declared the area off-limits to trophy hunting a year earlier. Provincial law does not recognize the ban.
The Vancouver Sun reported Wednesday that Aboriginal people from the area said Cheeky was skinned and left to rot in a field.
A third-round draft choice by the Wild in 2004, Stoner first played for the parent team in 2009-10, getting in eight games. The hard-hitting 215-pounder remained with the team through the 2013-14 season before joining the Ducks last season.