Trial delayed for Inuvik man who is expected to claim he fatally shot polar bear in self-defence

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A trial has been postponed for an Inuvik man, charged under the Northwest Territories Wildlife Act, for shooting and killing a polar bear out of season.

The trial for Justin Noah Elias, 30, was to have begun this past Monday in Inuvik but the case has now been adjourned until June 4 in Yellowknife to set a new trial date.

GNWT Prosecutor Roger Shepard asked for the adjournment in territorial court last week in Yellowknife, explaining to the judge that he was having difficulty contacting a “material” witness for the prosecution.

It’s believed that witness may testify that Elias did not shoot the bear in self-defence, which is believed to be what Elias will claim in court.

Shepard told the court that the witness was reported to be out on the land moose hunting, so there was no way to reach him.

He adds that you can only hunt polar bears between December and May in the hunting zone north of Inuvik where the bear was shot last August and then only with a required hunting tag.

Elias wasn’t charged with the offence until January of this year.

It’s not clear how big a bear it was, how close to Elias it was when it was shot or what happened to its meat and hide after it was killed.

Shepard says that information should come out at trial which he says will still be held in Inuvik, likely late this summer.

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.