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Clayton Stoner fined $10K, gets 3-year hunting ban for killing bear

ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia -- Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner is banned from hunting for three years and must pay $10,000 for killing a grizzly bear on British Columbia's central coast.

Stoner, 30, acknowledged through his lawyer Wednesday that he had breached the provincial Wildlife Act during the hunt in May 2013. Lawyer Marvin Stern said his client mistakenly believed he was qualified to participate.

Stoner wasn't in the Abbotsford court, and Stern pleaded guilty on his behalf to hunting without a license.

Provincial Judge Brent Hoy accepted that Stoner thought he was qualified as a resident, but the law had still been breached.

"If one hunts, then one must do so responsibly," he said.

The government dropped four other charges against Stoner, including knowingly making a false statement to obtain a hunting license, hunting out of season and unlawfully possessing dead wildlife.

Stoner, who is from Port McNeill on Vancouver Island, owns a home in Langford, British Columbia. To obtain a commercial trophy license, a hunter must live in B.C. for at least half of the time in six months of the previous year.

The case first gained media attention when photos were published of Stoner holding up a bear's severed head. First Nations and environmentalists said the animal was Cheeky, a star tourist attraction in B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest.

After he was charged, Stoner requested a DNA test on the bear. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service conducted the tests and determined the animal was 18 years old, not the 5-year-old Cheeky, Stern told the court.

Outside the court, representatives of the area First Nations and a conservation group maintained that the deceased bear was Cheeky. They said they could have been mistaken on the bear's age, noting that guardians had witnessed Stoner interact with Cheeky within hours before the kill.

The government didn't take a position on the identity of the bear.

Government lawyer Jim Cryder said there's a strict definition of resident under the act.

"For an NHL player ... they're going to be out of the province for at least seven months," Cryder told the court. "He hasn't, in fact, qualified as a resident."