Unlawful importation of threatened cacti species in British Columbia leads to house arrest

May 26, 2022 – Victoria, British Columbia – Environment and Climate Change Canada

Enforcing Canadian environmental and wildlife laws is one important way that Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is taking action to protect wildlife and nature. 

On November 19, 2021, Kyle Cheyne pleaded guilty in the Provincial Court of British Columbia in Victoria to two counts of unlawfully importing multiple species of cacti from Germany without obtaining the required permits. This was in contravention of subsection 6(2) of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).

Mr. Cheyne was sentenced to a five-month jail sentence, to be served in the community by way of Conditional Sentence Order. The conditions included house arrest for one month, twenty hours of community service, a requirement to stay in BC for the duration of the sentence, and a requirement to report regularly to a Court‑designated supervisor. Mr. Cheyne was also banned from seeking permits under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), subsection 10(1) of WAPPRIITA, for a period of two years. In addition, the Court ordered him to forfeit the seized plants to the Crown.

ECCC enforcement officers often work in collaboration with other federal departments and provincial and territorial partners to enforce Canadian environmental and wildlife laws. On November 13, 2019, the Victoria Police Department informed ECCC wildlife enforcement officers that a package containing twenty‑seven live cactus plants (Cactaceae) had been shipped to a company associated with Mr. Cheyne. A Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspector later identified the cacti species as plants listed under CITES.

On December 1, 2020, Mr. Cheyne was charged by indictment with importing CITES-listed plants without the required permits, contrary to subsection 6(2) of WAPPRIITA. Mr. Cheyne imported twelve Appendix I species and fifteen Appendix II species of cacti. By purchasing the cacti with the purpose of using and potentially selling them, Mr. Cheyne contributed to and encouraged the buying and selling of rare species of cacti.

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