An Alberta big game hunter has won more than $25,000 in damages against an Edmonton taxidermist who he claimed improperly handled 17 animal hides that he collected on hunts from around the world, including Australia, New Caledonia (an island nation near Fiji in the South Pacific), Mexico and Takijistan.
The allegations made during the trial date back as far as late 2006, when Raymond Moher had a series of animal hides transported to the facilities of Clarence Kriaski and his company Wildlife Originals.
Moher has spent the past 50 years trophy hunting around the world, amassing a collection of more than 500 animal examples including elephant, lion and leopard, which he keeps in a renovated barn on his property.
He had used the services of Kriaski in years prior with no issues and in fact Kriaski mounted about 50 animals for Moher between 2003 and 2008 including 32 animals hunted in Africa.
Troubles began when Moher “lost patience” with the timeliness of Kriaski and some of his taxidermy projects that had stretched out in some cases to over six years.
Some of the hides in question included a Dall sheep, a Fannin sheep, a North American bison, an Australian buffalo, a feral sheep, a feral goat, a Marco Polo sheep and a Himalayan ibex.
Moher had hoped to use the mounted animals as part of an educational museum he planned to build that could be used to “educate young people and others about the conservation benefits of hunting.”
Moher told Kriaski in February 2012 that he wanted his hides returned and directed them to be picked up by a courier driver and taken to the studio of Brian Dobson of Artistic Taxidermy, another taxidermist in the city.
Upon arrival Dobson inspected the hides and shot a video describing their conditions and in what ways they had deteriorated or, in some cases, been completely destroyed.
In a lengthy written decision published earlier this week, Justice Michael Lema found that the hides had arrived in “good or apparently good condition” and that Kriaski had waited too long to tan the untanned hides.
Lema wrote that the 40-year taxidermy veteran “has not, and cannot, prove that the deterioration was not caused by his tanning failures” and found him liable for the deterioration of 10 animals shot in Australia and New Caledonia as well as the Fannin sheep and the Marco Polo sheep.
The latter was shot in 2006 in Takijistan on a hunt for which Moher paid a $10,000US trophy fee.
Lema was also unconvinced by Kriaski’s argument that the poor-quality hides were down to “deficient field preparation, storage or transportation” because the hides came from seven different hunting trips and included a host of different animals.
Kriaski was found not liable for the loss of the Dall sheep hide or the bison.
In the end Moher replaced the hides from the Oceania hunt and the Fannin sheep for which Lema awarded $6,550 in damages.
He awarded $10,000 in damages for the loss of the Marco Polo sheep, another $5,000 for the loss of the ibex hide and another $5,000 for the “substandard condition” of the desert bighorn sheep.
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