Following their historic completion of the Northwest Passage by human power alone, the expedition team known as the Arctic Cowboys find themselves in hot water.
According to news stories published by Nunatsiaq News and the CBC, the team members Edward “West” Hansen, Jeff Wueste, Eileen Visser and Mark Agnew each face 45 counts of charges against the Canada National Parks Act and Migratory Birds Convention Act.
The source of the legal trouble stems from the group’s time on Bylot Island at the beginning of their journey. Bylot Island is home to a Canadian Migratory Bird Sanctuary and a segment of Sirmilik National Park.
The CBC lists the alleged offences the Arctic Cowboys face as follows: Using public lands in a park contrary to the Canada National Parks Act; Possessing a firearm in a park contrary to National Parks Wildlife Regulations; Disturbing wildlife in a park contrary to the National Parks Wildlife Regulations; Unlawfully entering a park without registering as required by the superintendent, contrary to the National Parks General Regulations; Unlawfully entering a restricted area in a park, contrary to the National Parks General Regulations; and Camping on public land in a park contrary to the National Parks of Canada Camping Regulations.
An email from Parks Canada spokesperson Megan Hope to Nunatsiaq News states, “On Aug. 25, Parks Canada law enforcement assisted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested, interviewed and released a group of sea kayakers in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.”
This means the Arctic Cowboys were arrested approximately 1,000 miles and over a month after departing Bylot Island. They were then permitted to continue with the completion of their expedition following their detainment in Cambridge Bay.
The allegations have since been laid as charges with Nunavut Courts, and a court date has been scheduled for Monday, January 8, 2024.
Paddling Magazine has not received comments on the case from expedition leader West Hansen. We will continue to monitor the proceedings.
Update: Sources report the judge has adjourned the case to March 4, 2024.