An Edmonton couple is facing hefty fines, after pleading guilty to nearly two dozen poaching charges, as part of one of the largest illegal hunting investigations ever in Alberta.

Chris Brophy and Michelle Hazeloh had faced 131 charges under the Wildlife Act.

The former hunting guide and his common-law partner faced a number of charges including hunting with prohibited firearms, hunting without licenses, hunting on a domestic game farm, and illegally abandoning animal carcasses – by taking the heads, and leaving the rest of the animal behind.

“On the recreational side, this is probably one of the highest,” Fish and Wildlife officer Quentin Isley said. “In Alberta’s history anyways.”

Officials said the investigation began after tips were passed on to the ‘Report a Poacher’ program.

The couple was charged following an extensive investigation, which involved the use of bait deer, DNA, and GPS trackers on the couple’s vehicles.

“We had forensics, we had assistance from the Edmonton city police, the RCMP,” Isley said.

“It was a significant amount of effort from the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch.”

On Tuesday in a Stony Plain courtroom, the pair entered 21 guilty pleas, and the 110 additional charges against them were dropped.

The couple has been ordered to pay a total of $100,000 in fines.

Along with the fines, the couple has been ordered to give up their Hummer – and have been banned from hunting for 25 years.

The Crown Prosecutor also argued the couple’s vehicle should have a GPS tracker on it for the next five to ten years, however, the judge ruled against it, and said he didn’t believe either of them would offend again.

However, the judge warned the couple, and said: “If they do come back, they’ll likely face jail time.”

It’s hoped this case will prompt more tips from hunters and the public, to help catch more poachers in the act.

“It’s vital that the general public understand the difference between a hunter and a poacher,” Todd Zimmerling with the Alberta Conservation Association said.

With files from Bill Fortier