Man fined $60,000 for illegal export of Nunavut polar bear mount, hides, to China
Ontario taxidermist must forfeit a polar bear mount and 2 hides or rugs under court ruling
Two polar bear hides and one mount originating from Nunavut are at the centre of a legal case that stretches from Canada to China and has left one Ontario taxidermist facing a hefty fine.
Taxidermist Cyril D’Souza was fined $60,000 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Oshawa, Ont., on Sept. 12 after pleading guilty to two counts of violating a federal law aimed at protecting wild animals and plants.
The ruling capped an investigation that started in 2018 when wildlife enforcement officers with Environment and Climate Change Canada found what looked like inconsistent information in export permits used to ship a polar bear mount and two polar bear hides to China, according to information released by the department.
“The three polar bears were lawfully harvested in Nunavut. No Nunavut hunting rules were violated,” said ECCC spokesperson Cecelia Parsons in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
“The three polar bears were also lawfully exported from Nunavut to Ontario.”
She said the problem was discrepancies found in the permits D’Souza used to export the polar bear mount and two hides to China.
The taxidermist “was deceptive and planned extensively” to provide “false and misleading information” to obtain the export permit, a news release from ECCC indicated.
In China and elsewhere in the world, polar bear pelts and mounts are often used for display.
“There has been an increased international scrutiny of polar bear trade worldwide over the last decade,” Parsons said.
Polar bear hides or carcasses legally exported from Canada annually averages about one per cent of the total Canadian polar bear population, she said, “and the numbers exported have been dropping steadily since 2013.”
There are more than 16,000 polar bears in Canada, which is about two-thirds of the world’s population, according to a 2018 ECCC report. About three-quarters of Canada’s polar bear harvest occurs in Nunavut.
In 2020, there were 109 permits issued for polar bear mounts or hides to be exported from Canada and in 2021 there were 169 permits issued, the federal government announced in 2021.
The $60,000 that D’Souza was fined will go into the federal government’s Environmental Damages Fund, according to the ECCC news release.
The court also ordered him to forfeit one full polar bear mount and two hides or rugs.