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This article was written with the assistance of student at law Julia Ferreira.

On January 18, 2019, Fredrick Thomson, a taxidermist from Coaldale, Alberta, was sentenced following his conviction for illegally importing a brown bear hide from Alaska.

Section 6(1) of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, “No person shall import into Canada any animal or plant that was taken, or any animal or plant, or any part or derivative of an animal or plant, that was possessed, distributed or transported in contravention of any law of any foreign state.” Under the Alaska Hunting Regulations, if an individual wants to take a bear hide out of the United States, a federal CITES permit is required from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Law Enforcement Unit.

As a result of the violation, Thomson was ordered to pay a $20,000.00 fine, which will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund. The order also required that Thomson forfeit the hide and prohibited him from hunting outside of Canada for two years. Thomson is also banned from importing and exporting animals and their parts for two years, if it is not related to his taxidermy business.

This charge arises from an extensive investigation into illegal hunting of wildlife in Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon. Authorities in the United States discovered several hunters from Alberta were illegally killing, and importing, brown bears from Alaska into Canada. The conviction came from – Operation Bruin – which is an extensive North American investigation into illegal hunting of wildlife in Alaska. Operation Bruin is a collaborative effort between Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Enforcement Branch, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, and Alberta Justice and Solicitor General (Fish and Wildlife Enforcement) to enforce wildlife protection laws.

To date, six Canadians and two Americans have been convicted in Canada under this initiative for violations of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. In total, $87,200.00 in penalties, and 28 years of hunting bans and prohibitions against importing and exporting animals to and from Canada, were imposed. In Alaska, 12 people has been convicted as a result of Operation Bruin.

The Environment Damages Fund was created in 1995 and is administered by Environment and Climate Change. The Environment Damages Funds provides a mechanism to use the funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments for projects that benefit the natural environment.

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