NEWS: Around the Arctic April 08, 2013 - 12:12 pm

Illegal trophy export attempt of Arctic trophies costs Mexican hunters $80,000

Nabbed in Winnipeg, hunters head home empty-handed


Four Mexican hunters returning from Nunavut paid $80,000 in fines April 5 before they made a hasty retreat from Winnipeg back to Mexico — heading home without their polar bear and narwhal trophies.

The men paid individual fines ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 to the federal government for offenses under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act and the Fisheries Act.

They were fined after Environment Canada wildlife officers received a tip last week that hunters were planning to take three polar bear hides and three narwhal tusks back to Mexico in a private jet, but without having first obtained the necessary export permits.

Hector Martinez, a property developer in the northern Mexican hub of Monterey, his two sons, Hector Armando Martinez and Alejandro Martinez, who work for their father, and Martinez’s godson, Gerardo Jimeno Rodriguez, a businessman, had arrived March 15 in Canada with a group of other Mexican hunters.

The group then split up, with some heading for Resolute Bay and the others to Cambridge Bay.

Rodriguez, Martinez and one of his sons went to Resolute Bay to hunt polar bears. His other son and two other Mexican men headed to Cambridge Bay to hunt muskox.

During an April 5 court appearance in Winnipeg, the men said they were sorry for not obtaining the necessary export permits, Erin Magas, a prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, told Nunatsiaq News April 8.

But that didn’t change the outcome.

The hunters’ Nunavut sports hunting permits were in order, but they lacked the proper export permits they would have needed to leave Canada legally with their trophies.

They would have needed an export permit under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which takes four to six weeks for Environment Canada to process, Magas said.

Even if they had received an export permit, Mexico does not allow the import of marine mammals, she said.

The three men did have an export license to take the polar bear skulls and hides out of Nunavut to an Edmonton taxidermist.

But, according to testimony from their April 5 court hearing in Winnipeg, the men felt the taxidermist wanted too much money to process the trophies.

That’s why they decided to take the hides to Mexico via Winnipeg where Hector Armando Martinez was waiting for them after he had finished hunting musk ox.

Officers from Environment Canada and the Canadian Border Services confiscated the polar bear hides and narwhal tusks found during a search of the hunters’ private jet at the Winnipeg International Airport.

The $80,000 paid by the hunters will go to a federal program, the Environmental Defence Fund, which distributes money to environmental groups.

For the next five years, the hunters must also provide information on any hunting trip to Canada and provide dates, their mode of transportation, where they are going, the name of the licensed outfitter, duration of the hunt, port of export, number of animals being exported and “any and all applicable exportation documents for those animals.”

The hunters must provide that information to the Environment Canada Wildlife Enforcement Directorate in Winnipeg at least one week before the scheduled hunting trip, the judgment said.

The seizure is the such seizure in five years, Environment Canada said.