October 04, 2016 - 7:57 AM
TORONTO - Wildlife is now the fourth largest illegal trade globally after drugs, counterfeit money and human trafficking, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Here are a few cases where Canadians faced charges relating to illegal importation of exotic animals:
— Turtles in pants: A student at the University of Waterloo who repeatedly entered Michigan to buy and ship thousands of turtles to his native China only to be caught with 51 of them strapped to his legs was sentenced in April to nearly five years in a U.S. federal prison for smuggling. The U.S. government said Kai Xu, 27, shipped turtles to China from Canada and the U.S., or hired people to fly with turtles in their luggage to China. It's not illegal to buy turtles from breeders in the U.S., but Xu's crime was shipping them overseas without a federal permit.
— Turtles in pants : Earlier this year, another man — Dong Yan of Windsor, Ont. — was fined $3,500 and placed on probation for two years after getting caught smuggling nearly 40 turtles in his pants. Yan was convicted in February of illegally importing reptiles into Canada that were transported in contravention of a foreign state's law.
— Finches in hair rollers: A Toronto man was fined $2,500 four years ago after he was caught at Pearson International Airport with finches and seed-eaters hidden inside hair rollers in his coat. Ali Niamath had pleaded guilty to unlawfully importing live birds into Canada from Trinidad and Tobago. Federal law bars people from importing animals taken or transported in contravention with the laws of a foreign state and officials say Niamath did not have the proper export permits. The lesser seed-finch and ruddy-breasted seed-eater birds are prized for their song and their population is in decline as they are often trapped in the wild and exported illegally.
— Scorpions and snakes in truck: An Edmonton man who tried to drive back into Canada with snakes and scorpions in his truck was convicted in 2011 of illegal importation and fined $10,000. Terrell John Gruse was also ordered to pay $1,400 to cover the care of the seized animals. Officials say he had illegally captured the snakes in the wild while visiting the U.S. and purchased the scorpions from an American pet store. He was stopped at the Kingsgate border crossing near Cranbrook, B.C.
— Kulans: A Bowmanville, Ont., man who brought three live kulans into Sarnia, Ont., pleaded guilty to illegal importation in 2011 and was fined $8,000. Brian Hart was also made to give up the animals, which are listed as a species that may become endangered if trade is not controlled, and pay an additional $2,550 to cover their care. Kulans are a large mammal belonging to the horse family and are native to the deserts of Syria, Iran, India and Tibet.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016