Quebec man guilty of illegally importing tortoises

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COWANSVILLE, Que. -- September 6, 2011 -- Jean François Hamel Duranceau, of Mont-Saint Hilaire, Quebec, has been fined $4,000, on September 2, 2011, for having illegally imported 20 live Geochelone sulcata tortoises.

In September 2009, Mr. Hamel-Duranceau was charged by Environment Canada of having contravened subsection 6(2) of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). He did not have the permit required under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to import Geochelone sulcata tortoises.

The facts alleged against Mr. Hamel-Duranceau are based on a secondary inspection of a vehicle at the St-Armand border crossing that revealed that 20 live tortoises were hidden in the bottom of a golf bag in the trunk of the vehicle used by the defendant.

The Canada Border Services Agency then requested the assistance of wildlife officers from Environment Canada, who came to seize the animals and the golf bag.

The Geochelone sulcata is a tortoise native to the South-Africa. It inhabits in the south of Sahara, Senegal, Mauritania, Chad and Niger.

CITES is an international agreement to regulate 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.

Further information on CITES and WAPPRIITA may be found at The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

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