The manager of a store on a Saskatchewan Hutterite colony pleaded guilty recently to violating Canadian law by selling the meat from wild geese. The story was picked up by a news service in Prince Albert, a city located in the center of the province.

Geese migrating through Saskatchewan
Geese migrating through Saskatchewan (Photo by Chris Pawluk on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

David Tschetter admitted in a provincial court that he had been selling the goose meat at the Star City Colony, which violates Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act. The colony is a few miles outside the small town of Star City, which is about 60 miles east southeast of Prince Albert, the third largest city in Saskatchewan. During the court hearing, Mr. Tschetter said he had been selling both goose sausage and jerky. He pleaded guilty to five violations of the law.

Rich Hildebrand, a conservation officer, told the news service that the investigation of the sale of goose meat dated back to 2014. During that three-year period, conservation officers acting undercover had visited the colony shop on several occasions and each time Mr. Tschetter had told them that he knew the sale of the goose meat was illegal, but he sold the meat anyway—even after the agents had given him verbal and written warnings.

Hutterites at a farmers market in Saskatchewan
Hutterites at a farm market in Saskatchewan (Photo by Peter Merholz on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

The court imposed stiff financial penalties on the colony. Mr. Tschetter received a fine of $500 for each of three counts, and $5,000 for each of two other counts. In addition, the court required the colony to take 350 pounds of goose meat that the Ministry of Environment would provide, process it, and then donate it to local food banks. The geese had been collected by the ministry during a different incident.

Mr. Hildebrand told the reporter that the fines were substantial, but appropriate. He hoped that “the message gets out that this isn’t taken lightly.”

My Hutterite Life (cover)A search of a shelf of books on Hutterite life turns up numerous references to the importance of barnyard animals such as geese—as well as turkeys, chickens, ducks, etc.—in the Hutterite agricultural economy. One mentions Hutterites interacting with wild geese. Lisa Marie Stahl wrote in her book My Hutterite Life (2003) that she likes to watch the wild Canada geese that nest every year on old bales of straw around the colony. “Out of respect for nature,” she wrote (p.119) “the guys work around certain bales, leaving them undisturbed where protective mothers sit and guard their eggs.”

While Ms. Stahl wrote that the geese she enjoys watching were Canada geese, it is not clear which species of goose the Star City colony has been abusing. The news report just referred to the meat as wild goose. It is clear from the maps in Edward S. Brinkley’s book National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America that the meat sold might also have been from two other species of geese that occur in, or migrate through, central Saskatchewan, the Ross’s goose or the snow goose.