Ex-Wild player Clayton Stoner faces charges over big-game hunt

Clayton Stoner's killing of Cheeky the bear draws comparisons to another big-game scandal with Minnesota ties.

Clayton Stoner's killing of Cheeky the bear draws comparisons to another big-game scandal with Minnesota ties.

As the internet slowly moves on from one international hunting scandal with Minnesota ties, another is rekindled.

Two years before Walter Palmer shot Zimbabwe’s Cecil the lion, prompting a wave of online anger, then-Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner briefly became trophy hunting’s whipping boy. Stoner’s prey, too, had a name — Cheeky, a five-year-old grizzly bear beloved by aboriginals in British Columbia. In 2013, pictures of the hockey player holding Cheeky’s severed head made the internet rounds, spurring outrage, but nowhere near Palmerian levels.

At the time, Stoner claimed everything was on the up and up, and made no apologies for the huntin’ and fishin’ lifestyle he’s enjoyed since growing up in the Canadian province.

But two years later local wildlife authorities say otherwise. Stoner is now facing charges stemming from the May 28, 2013 hunt, including unlawful possession of dead wildlife, hunting without a license and out of season, and making a false statement to obtain a license, according to the Vancouver Sun. Each charge is related to a residency clause in the country’s Wildlife Act.

— The Vancouver Sun (@VancouverSun) September 17, 2015
Per the Sun, resident hunters are defined as “Canadian citizens or permanent residents whose primary residences are in B.C. and who are physically present in B.C. the ‘greater portion of each of six calendar months out of the 12 calendar months.’” Supposedly, Stoner didn’t meet those requirements as an NHLer playing for the Wild.

The charges’ maximum fines range from $50,000 to $250,000, the Sun reports. For around $25,000 (U.S., not that weird Canadian money), non-residents can hire a licensed guide for a legit grizzly hunt. Back in 2013, Stoner said he scored the bear-hunting license through a limited lottery system.

After five seasons with the Wild, Stoner signed a four-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks last summer.

Despite the similarities between Stoner and Palmer’s controversial hunts, Palmer has not been charged.

Meanwhile, Cheeky and Cecil are chomping on the big salmon/gazelle in the sky.