Illegal Importation of Reptiles Nets Jail Time and Fines

CORNWALL, Ontario. – Dennis Day of Cobden, Ontario, was sentenced on November 5 in the Ontario Court of Justice after pleading guilty on July 23, 2013 to two counts of violating federal laws regulating the import of reptiles. Mr. Day was sentenced to a 90 day jail term to be served on weekends, and ordered to pay $50,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund. The court also imposed a three year probation in which Mr. Day is prohibited from possessing any listed species of wildlife except in accordance with the provisions of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) and the regulations thereunder.

On August 4, 2010, a joint operation by Environment Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the United States Customs and Border Protection found Mr. Day to be in possession of three containers of reptiles that were smuggled into Canada near Cornwall, Ontario by a vessel originating from the United States. Inspection of the containers revealed a number of reptiles that are prohibited in Canada for health and safety reasons and others that are illegal to import into Canada without a permit.

Officers seized 205 animals including 20 Chinese striped turtles or goldenthreads, 20 African side neck turtles, 20 South American red-footed tortoises, 1 Herman’s tortoise, 1 Serrated hinge back tortoise, 8 African spurred tortoises, 25 Timor monitors, 20 Green iguanas, 51 Jackson’s chameleons and 39 Helmeted chameleons. The estimated retail value of these animals is approximately $50,000.

Mr. Day was convicted under WAPPRIITA for importing animals without a permit and making false or misleading statements to an officer.

Mr. Day was also charged by the Canada Border Services Agency and convicted on March 14, 2013, of smuggling, keeping, acquiring, and disposing of goods illegally imported under the Customs Act. Mr. Day received an additional 90 day jail sentence to be served on weekends, and the reptiles were ordered to be forfeited to the Crown.

As a result of the evidence obtained during the Day investigation, another accused, Mr. Mark Ostroff, was convicted in the Ontario Court of Justice in Cornwall, Ontario on December 14, 2012, after pleading guilty to one count of unlawfully importing animals in violation of the WAPPRIITA. Mr. Ostroff was fined $40,000 and sentenced to three years probation.

Of the 10 species seized, nine are listed as controlled species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES is an international agreement to regulate or in some cases to prohibit trade in specific species of wild animals and plants, as well as their respective parts and derivatives. Environment Canada is the lead agency responsible for CITES implementation in Canada. WAPPRIITA is the legislation used to implement CITES in Canada.

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