Worldwide wildlife enforcement blitz nets black-bear parts, African anteaters

Canadian officers take part in Interpol’s Operation Thunderball with 108 other countries

Pangolins confiscated from smugglers inside a container during a news conference in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, on June 14, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Binsar Bakkara)

Canadian wildlife enforcement officers have seized dozens of black-bear parts, diet pills made from endangered African plants and the bodies of two scaly anteaters as part of an international blitz targeting smugglers and poachers, Environment and Climate Change Canada says.

The seizures took place in June when Canada, for the third time, took part in Interpol’s Operation Thunderball with 108 other countries to go after global smugglers, poachers and traffickers of endangered and exotic species.

Sheldon Jordan, Canada’s director general for wildlife enforcement, said the public may not realize the extent of the smuggling issue in this country. He noted that about one-third of shark meat used in restaurants is illegally imported from endangered shark species.

One-third of eel in Canada is from Europe, where it isn’t allowed to be exported, Jordan said. Last year, 15 tonnes of European eel was seized in Canada during Operation Thunderball, but none was found this year.

Globally wildlife crime is estimated to be a $200 billion business, but nobody has been able to put a figure on the cost within Canada. He said, however, that there is a cost to the environment.

“We basically have a choice here: we can stop wildlife crime, or we can watch criminals drive wildlife to extinction,” he said.

The Canadian focus was on the export of at-risk species from Canada, particularly during the tenuous spring breeding season, and the illegal import of exotic animals and plants

One of the most surprising finds was two dead, scaly anteaters found in Montreal smuggled from Cameroon. The animals, known as pangolins, are the most trafficked mammal in the world, with their scales in high demand for use in traditional medicines.

READ MORE: Grizzly killed after attacking man, injuring B.C. conservation officer

Jordan said Canada has never found them here before. No charges have yet been laid in that seizure because the investigation is complex, he said.

There are 18 charges laid or in the works for other seizures, including against American hunters caught smuggling black bear parts over the border during the spring hunt.

Jordan said “border blitzes” set up in New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan found at least 16 bear penis bones, as well as testicles and bear paws.

In B.C., one compliance order was issued to protect nests of the highly endangered bank swallow, but the federal department did not provide a more specific location.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Lacombe’s AFSC ready to help Alberta producers facing difficult times

2019 season not easy for Alberta producers due toweather and other challenges

ROAD CLOSURE: Wolf Creek Drive rail crossing repair in Lacombe

Wolf Creek Drive will be closed from 50 Ave to 52 Ave on Thursday, Nov. 21

Alberta Justice Minister advocates UCP rural crime plan

Expanded property rights, more power to peace officers, demonetizing scrap mental part of UCP plan

VIDEO: Lacombe honours those who fought for freedom

Remembrance Day ceremony welcomes 100s to LMC

Protesters say Alberta bill would make it harder to access some medical services

The bill would mean a health-care provider could not be sanctioned for refusing to provide a service due to morals

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

Rebels ride 3-goal first period to 4-3 win over Brandon

Goaltender Byron Fancy with key saves in third period to save game

One year on, most oil-and-gas bailout money has moved, federal government says

Sweden’s central bank says it has sold its Alberta-government issued bonds

Supreme Court of Canada dismisses murder appeals in 2013 Calgary swarming death

Assmar Shlah and Franz Cabrera were convicted in 2016 of second-degree murder

Ski resorts selling mountain water is a risky move, critics say

Alberta allowed ski resort in Kananaskis Country to sell about 50 million litres to third party

Sportsnet looks at new options for Coach’s Corner time slot, post-Don Cherry

Spokesperson says Hall of Fame feature on tap this weekend after co-host’s firing

Most Read