3-month Jail Time for Illegally Trafficking Iguanas

Written by on June 16, 2017. Posted in Species at risk

An Ontario man was sentenced to three months jail in New Brunswick for illegally trafficking threatened iguanas. The individual, who is from Thornhill, Ontario, was sentenced in Fredericton Provincial Court to concurrently serve two three-month jail terms after pleading guilty to one count of importing an animal without necessary permits and one count of exporting an animal from Cuba without the proper authorization. Failure to obtain the import and export permits is a contravention of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

The Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) intercepted two individuals on September 17, 2016 returning to Canada on a flight from Cuba with two Cuban rock iguanas (Cyclura nubile). The Cuban rock iguana is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (“Convention”).

Environment and Climate Change Canada is the lead department responsible for enforcing the Convention. The Convention is an international agreement between governments aimed at ensuring that international trade in wild animals and plants do not threaten their continued survival. The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act represents the legislation that is used in Canada to implement the Convention.

Wildlife listed on the Appendix that is imported or exported from Canada, or attempted to be exported without the required permits, may be seized. The potential fines for individuals can be up to $150,000 and/or up to five years in jail.

The Cuban rock iguana is one of the world’s largest iguanas, with the males reaching lengths up to 1.25 to 1.5 metres and weights of up to 7 kilograms. The Cuban rock iguana is particularly vulnerable due to habitat transformation, human disturbance, particularly on Cuba’s main island, and illegal trade.