Conviction for wildlife smuggler at Canada-US border with turtles strapped to legs

February 25, 2016 - St. Catharines, Ontario - Environment and Climate Change Canada

Mr. Dong Yan of Windsor, Ontario, was convicted in the Provincial Offences Court on February 17, 2016, for illegally importing reptiles into Canada that were transported in contravention of a foreign state’s law. The court imposed a 24 month probation order, a fine of $3,500, a prohibition from owning or possessing turtles and tortoises for 10 years, 50 hours of community service, and the requirement to notify Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) seven days prior to any international travel. As well, Mr. Yan was ordered to write a letter or article, suitable for publication, outlining his experience of being intercepted, charged and prosecuted for the offences in question and submit to ECCC for publication as the Department sees fit. The offences were in contravention of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. Of the total fine, $2,000 will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

During an inspection at the Niagara border crossing on June 11, 2014, officials with the Canada Border Services Agency discovered 38 turtles strapped to Mr. Yan’s person. Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers investigated the illegal import as part of a cooperative investigation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement. The turtles were identified as Ringed Map turtles (Graptemys oculifera), Diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin), Three-toed Box turtles (Terrapene carolina triunguis), Spotted turtles (Clemmys guttata) and Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans). The turtles were contained in plastic bags and taped to Mr. Yan’s legs under his pants.

Quick Facts

  • There are over 350 species of turtles and tortoises in the wild. Of this number, trade in 140 species of turtles and 44 species of tortoise are regulated by the CITES. Live specimens of these animals are often sought after for use in the pet and food trade.
  • The CITES is an international agreement that Canada acceded to on July 3, 1975, 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 and Climate Change Canada is the lead agency responsible for CITES implementation in Canada. The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act is the legislation used to implement CITES in Canada. Under Canadian law, any CITES-listed wildlife imported into Canada, exported from Canada, or attempted to be exported without the required permits may be subject to seizure and forfeiture, and those responsible may be liable to prosecution.


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