Wildlife Enforcement Directorate: 2012 to 2013 annual summary


Wildlife Enforcement Directorate (WED) within Environment Canada’s Enforcement Branch is making a difference in the world.


Sheldon Jordan
Director General
Nisutlin River Delta National Wildlife Area, Yukon

Whether we are stopping smugglers from taking threatened wildlife from our country, ensuring that sensitive habitats remain free of pollution or stopping poachers from denying law-abiding hunters access to plentiful harvests, federal wildlife officers are there to make sure that rules are respected and lawbreakers caught.

Operational year 2012-2013 saw many successes for our team. Wildlife officers performed thousands of inspections, carried out hundreds of investigations and obtained 45 criminal convictions under the laws we enforce. We improved our programs by increasing officer training. We enhanced operational practices to support the crucial work we do on behalf of all Canadians. We learned from and trained officers from over a dozen countries. Although WED is a small organization widely spread across the country, it works effectively with territorial, provincial, federal and international law agencies to conserve, protect and respect indigenous and exotic species.

This is the first annual summary of WED activities, covering the period from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013. Every single one of our nearly 115 team members contributed to the successes you will read about. I am sure you will be proud of the work our women and men do to protect wildlife, habitats and commerce every day.

Sheldon Jordan
Director General

2012-2013 Overview

Wildlife trafficking garnered a high profile on the international scene in operational year 2012-2013. According to published figures, profits generated by the international illegal wildlife trade could range anywhere from $10 billion to $30 billion per year. Prices have continued to increase for certain commodities such as rhino horn, elephant ivory and polar bear hides. Internationally, the links between wildlife trafficking and criminal networks became more evident, as did the links between poaching in African countries, political instability and the funding of terrorist groups.

At the same time, Canadian species are at risk within our borders due to the demand for wildlife products abroad and the thriving economies of consumer countries. The Government of Canada is committed to conserving wildlife species and their habitats. Achieving this goal requires that wildlife protection legislation be enforced efficiently. In 2012-2013, the Wildlife Enforcement Directorate began implementing a risk-based approach to planning, ensuring that we are able to protect Canada’s most vulnerable species.

Inspection of sea freight container in Winnipeg

Inspection of sea freight container in Winnipeg

About Us

Enforcement Branch’s Wildlife Enforcement Directorate (WED) is responsible for enforcing laws that protect and conserve migra- tory birds, protect habitats and endangered species under federal mandate. We are responsible for the enforcement provisions of the following acts:

  • the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA);
  • the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA);
  • the Species at Risk Act;
  • the Canada Wildlife Act;
  • together with our colleagues in the Environmental Enforcement Directorate (EED), the wildlife provisions of the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act. EED also enforces the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act;
  • under agreements with other organizations, in many places wildlife officers also are empowered to enforce provincial, territorial or other federal laws such as the Fisheries Act.

Wildlife officer during an investigation on bobcats without required CITES permits

Wildlife officer during an investigation on bobcats without required CITES permits

WED is made up of nearly 115 highly dedicated people working across Canada, of whom approximately 100 are wildlife officers and front-line managers including 12 intelligence staff. We have a strong regional presence: nearly 90% of our employees work in our 23 field offices. As part of the Enforcement Branch, regional directors and the Executive Director for headquarters report to the Director General, who in turn reports to the Chief Enforcement Officer. National headquarters is located in Gatineau, Quebec, and includes directorate management and three divisions: Intelligence, Operational Support and Program Support. Managers and employees in all regions and divisions perform their work with commitment, perseverance and professionalism.

Our Directorate works very closely with Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), which is responsible for federal wildlife policy, coordination, permitting, regulatory development, compliance promotion including management of ecosystems and species conservation.

WED Penalty Statistics at Year-End, 2012-2013
Amount of federal fines $166,998
Amount directed to EDF* $158,650
Amount directed to other funds $36,610
Total penalties $362,258
Prison time (days) 60
Hunting prohibitions (years) 57
Criminal convictions 45

* The Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) helps ensure that people who cause damage to the environment take responsibility for their actions. It gives courts a way to guarantee that the money from fines and settlements is directly invested to improve the environment, including wildlife. (For more information, see the Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) website. Where possible, those funds are directed back to the areas that had suffered damage.

WED’s 2012-2013 Priorities

In 2012-2013, WED identified five operational priorities:

Priority 1: Export of Canadian animal and plant species. Activities addressing this priority include border inspections to combat trafficking in Canadian species such as polar bears, ginseng and migratory birds.

Priority 2: Import of live species. WED officers combat this type of wildlife crime by conducting blitzes at points of entry and inside the country to interdict illegal shipments of live species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

Priority 3: Pollution and incidental take of migratory birds in high conservation risk areas. Wildlife officers conducted activities in high-pressure areas where human activities pose a threat to protected species and--often in collaboration with our colleagues in EED--their habitats.

Priority 4: Illegal commercialization of migratory birds by hunters and outfitters. These activities include stopping the selling of birds, unlawful baiting and overtake by outfitters, taxidermy and butchering.

Priority 5: Targeted inspections of habitats at high risk for conservation and compliance. This priority applies particularly to SARA-listed species’ habitat, national wildlife areas and migratory bird sanctuaries.

In 2012-2013, we performed more than 6500 inspections and around 600 investigations, approximately.

Developing Our People

In 2012-2013, WED’s professional development focus was on designing and delivering advanced training to officers and managers.

  • Under an innovative partnership with the Canadian Police College in Ottawa, WED and Enforcement Branch’s Learning and Development Division developed an Advanced Investigations Curriculum that is being rolled out over the next three years. In 2012-2013, 18 officers were trained on forensic interviewing, six on advanced search warrants and one on major case management. This curriculum is already being shared with other federal enforcement agencies.
  • All officers and managers were trained to implement Compliance Orders, a new tool introduced under the Environmental Enforcement Act. Twenty-one participants took the Fundamentals for Managers - Block B training, nine officers took Bird Wing Identification offered in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, seven people took WAPPRIITA legislative training and six staff were trained on enforcing the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act.
  • Lastly, 11 officers and managers took the Case Coordinator Course for covert investigations. This is offered by the National Special Investigations Training group, a project of the Canadian Natural Resources Law Enforcement Chiefs’ Association.

Bird Wing Identification training for wildlife officers in Gatineau

Bird Wing Identification training for wildlife officers
in Gatineau

Protecting Canadian Wildlife

Summer 2012 saw a coordinated series of interprovincial and international border operations right across the country to look for evidence of illegal hunting of black bear and other species. The operation took place in 29 locations.

More than 800 hunters and fishers were inspected, and 79 infractions against federal laws were discovered. Of those, 44 were related to black bears while 35 involved other species of wildlife.

Officers issued 54 contraventions and 25 warnings and confiscated nine bear carcasses. Various animal parts were also confiscated, including skulls, bear and seal meat, a liver, bacula (penile bones) and eagle parts. WED staff also inspected wolf, bison, beaver, duck, mountain lion, deer and fish.

Graduation ceremony in Abidjan in November 2012

Graduation ceremony in Abidjan in November 2012

Jubilee Medal

2012 marked the 60th anniversary of the ascension of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, to the Throne. To mark the occasion, the Government of Canada commissioned the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Six WED staff were presented with the award in recognition of their efforts in one of the following fields: community engagement, professional recognition or international service.

  • Paul Langdon, Lewisporte, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Ken Tucker, Lewisporte, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Ross Galbraith, Sackville, New Brunswick
  • Daniel Breton, Montréal, Quebec
  • Gerry Brunet, Burlington, Ontario
  • Brenda Ryan, Calgary, Alberta

International Engagement

Published reports indicate that the illegal trade in wildlife is the fourth-highest-value criminal activity worldwide after drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking--but before arms smuggling. WED took many concrete actions in cooperation with the world community to fight trafficking.

Partnerships with INTERPOL

  • Environment Canada’s mandate in managing wildlife is unique among domestic wildlife agencies in that it is responsible for regulating international trade. Approximately 40% of WED’s work is dedicated to inspecting and interdicting wildlife trade at the border. In this day and age, enforcement agencies must communicate quickly and share information. In 2013, Enforcement Branch seconded two officers part time to work in the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Ottawa. This project will allow for quicker identification of persons at risk and facilitate international sharing of intelligence.
  • Enforcement Branch signed an agreement with INTERPOL in July 2012 to provide training materials for wildlife officers in Africa. The Standard Wildlife Enforcement Officer Training-Africa course has been delivered in English to participants from 11 countries. In November 2012, two WED officers and a representative of France’s Gendarmerie nationale taught the course in Côte d’Ivoire to officers from seven French-speaking nations.

CITES Identification Guide - Hunting Trophies in three languages: English, French and Spanish

CITES Identification Guide - Hunting Trophies in three languages: English, French and Spanish

Partnerships with the CITES Secretariat

  • The Internet is increasingly being used by wildlife smugglers to peddle their wares. To counter this illegal online trade, WED developed the Internet Investigations Toolkit as part of a commitment to the CITES Secretariat following a 2009 international workshop on the issue in Vancouver. The Toolkit was distributed to the enforcement representatives of 30 countries at the CITES Conference of the Parties in March 2013.
  • Among wildlife enforcement agencies worldwide, WED is known for the many species identification guides produced over the last 20 years to help front-line conservation, customs and police officers do their jobs. To date, nine guides have been produced. This year, we signed agreements to allow for translation of WED’s guides into Turkish, Ukrainian and Russian. In addition to English and French, identification guides have been translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Italian, Polish, Thai and Japanese.

Pacific and Yukon Region

Pacific and Yukon Region (PYR) has a landscape that ranges from living desert to arctic tundra. WED-PYR covers the province of British Columbia and Yukon territory. It is unique in that it has both a southern and northern border with the United States and is the primary connection with the Asia-Pacific region. With its varied climates and geography, this region hosts one of the highest numbers of species at risk. Nine wildlife officers work out of Vancouver, Whitehorse and Smithers.

American ginsens (Panax quinquefolius) and all orchids are species listed under CITES Permits can be obtained for theses species if they originate from a legal source

American ginsens (Panax quinquefolius) and all orchids are species listed under CITES Permits can be obtained for theses species if they originate from a legal source

Enforcement Highlights

Ginseng smuggling - In 2010, wildlife officers discovered a cargo shipment that included several bags of illegal wild American ginseng roots hidden among artificially propagated American ginseng roots. Officers also found several bags of Dendrobium spp., an orchid used in traditional Asian medicines. Both species are very high in value, and neither were accounted for on a CITES permit.

Following a multi-year investigation, the importer was sentenced in late 2012 to pay a total fine of $45,000 in 2012, which included a contribution of $7,500 to the Environmental Damages Fund and $30,000 to the wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC.

In another case of illegal importation of ginseng, wildlife officers from Vancouver inspected a sea container in the Port of Vancouver, detaining $150,000 worth of American ginseng (9 kg wild and 544 kg cultivated) as well as Gastrodia, an orchid species. No permit had been obtained to import the shipment.

The importer, a Vancouver company, was convicted and fined a total of $50,000 for importing American ginseng (wild and cultivated), a CITES-listed species, without a permit. Of that amount, the company paid a $45,000 fine to the courts and $5,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund.

It takes three years for an American ginseng plant to reach reproductive maturity. A mature plant will produce an average of only 25 seeds, of which only 1 in 200 will produce a fertile plant. A colony needs approximately 170 plants to remain viable. There are only 22 viable populations of American ginseng left in Canada: 15 in Quebec and seven in Ontario.

Contraband wild American ginseng was found concealed in a barrel of legally farmed ginseng roots

Contraband wild American ginseng was found concealed in a barrel of legally farmed ginseng roots

Illegal ATV activities in a National Wildlife Area - Wildlife officers from Vancouver conducted a vehicle patrol during the July long weekend in Vaseux-Bighorn and Columbia NWAs in the B.C. Interior. In Columbia NWA, officers issued four violation tickets and three warnings to all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders. The CWS manages this area to maintain it as a healthy ecosystem for fish and wildlife.

Vaseux-Bighorn NWA is home to 28 species listed under the Species at Risk Act, including the endangered white-headed woodpecker, the threatened peregrine falcon, Lewis’s woodpecker, pallid bat and Behr’s hairstreak, as well as the long-billed curlew. ATV use disturbs wildlife and compromises vegetation, which in turn leads to habitat loss.

Our People, Our Partners

Wildlife officers delivered training to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers in southern ports of entry in the B.C. Interior and the Port of Prince Rupert. CBSA officers received identification kits equipped with wildlife exhibits and samples to increase their awareness and guide them through inspections of plant or animal species so that they will know when to refer cases to wildlife officers.

CBSA officer is trained by a wildlife officer

CBSA officer is trained by a wildlife officer

PYR wildlife officers attend USFWS in-service - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Office of Law Enforcement conducts annual “in-service” meetings for its inspectors and special agents. In May 2012, two officers attended each session in Ashland, Oregon.

The officers presented a quick overview of Environment Canada and the close working relationship between WED-PYR and USFWS at the border. They had useful discussions with the USFWS inspectors about species imported into Canada and the U.S., in particular corals and traditional Asian medicines, and about WED’s work in general.

The PYR officers participated in on a shortened version of the Forensic Interviewing and Interrogation Course for Conservation Officers.

These training courses are a valuable platform for front-line staff to share information. The contacts made facilitate the exchange of information and benefit partnerships for years to come.

Prairie and Northern Region

Prairie and Northern Region (PNR) encompasses Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. It is vast, and its flora and fauna are very diverse, as is the work carried out by its 13 wildlife officers. PNR District Offices are located in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Yellowknife. There is a seasonal office in Fort McMurray.

Inspection of private jet at Winnipeg Airport

Inspection of private jet at Winnipeg Airport

The region has several points of entry, including land crossings, international airports, seaports and two major transportation routes (the Trans Canada and the Yellowhead highways). There are thousands of pipelines above and below ground, five major oil sands extraction sites, numerous petrochemical manufacturers and other major industries. PNR also includes much of Canada’s Arctic and the Northwest Passage, which are the new hotspots for development. WED activities in the region range from industrial and commercial inspections, to multi-agency response to spills, to illegal wildlife trade and major international investigations.

Enforcement Highlights

Polar bear smuggling - March did not go out like a lamb in PNR. On the last day of the month, four hunters were intercepted attempting to smuggle polar bear hides and narwhal tusks out of Canada.

The hunters, all from Mexico, legally shot the polar bears in Nunavut in late March. Although both polar bear and narwhal may be legally exported from Canada with a CITES permit, Mexico bans their import. The hunters were intercepted by officers at Winnipeg’s James Richardson International Airport where the private jet they were travelling in stopped to refuel.

The hunters were fined a total of $80,000 for their crime. Polar bears have considerable social, cultural and economic importance to Inuit across northern Canada. By making sure that hunting and exporting are done legally, WED is helping to ensure that there will be bears for generations to come while demonstrating Canada’s good management of the species.

International trade in live rocks - After a lengthy investigation involving two regions and foreign authorities, a major success was achieved when a Winnipeg company was convicted of illegally importing tens of thousands of kilograms of live rocks (ocean rocks such as coral skeletons). The violations were first noted in July 2007, when CBSA inspectors working in British Columbia discovered a 9507 kg shipping container of suspect live rocks originating from Indonesia. After a lengthy investigation, sentencing in 2012 resulted in fines of $135,000 for the importer and the company.

The search revealed three polar bear skins and two narwhal tusks

The search revealed three polar bear skins and two narwhal tusks

Hunter compliance - Migratory bird hunting is a major recreational activity in PNR. During checks of 481 hunters, 196 items were seized, 27 charges were laid, $19,157 in fines were given and 38 warnings issued.

Saskatchewan based officers inspected a group of five waterfowl hunters from Indiana, following surveillance of their activities. The group had shot 66 birds over their allowed limit and failed to retrieve crippled live birds. Four of the hunters were charged, pleaded guilty, were ordered to pay a total of $8,000 in fines and received an automatic one-year hunting suspension.

The vast majority of non-resident waterfowl hunters who come to Canada are headed to Saskatchewan. According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment, non-Canadians generate income of approximately $14.3 million each year in the province.

Illegal big game hunting - In June 2011, acting on information received from the USFWS, PNR and PYR officers began investigating 15 Canadian residents who are alleged to have unlawfully killed brown and black bears and mountain goats in Alaska and illegally imported the animals into Canada.

Director General Sheldon Jordan with a seized 3-metre Alaskan brown bear mount in Calgary

Director General Sheldon Jordan with a seized 3-metre Alaskan brown bear mount in Calgary

As a result of a two-year investigation, charges were laid for the illegal importation of the animals into Canada. One individual pleaded guilty to one count and was ordered to pay $4,000 in fines. He was also ordered to forfeit all seized items, including a taxidermied brown bear, and to notify WED of all wildlife imports for the next two years. Other cases are still before the courts.

Brown bears, which are listed under CITES, have a slow reproduction rate and cub mortality is high, which means that uncontrolled hunting could contribute to their eventually becoming endangered. Illegal hunting also reduces the number of bears available to law-abiding hunters.

Our People, Our Partners

The Yellowknife wildlife officers work regularly with Northwest Territories and Nunavut Renewable Resource staff, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, CBSA and the RCMP to coordinate enforcement efforts in the region. This year, they began working with CWS to build relationships with local communities and Area Co-Management Boards adjacent to Migratory Bird Sanctuaries and National Wildlife Areas. Officers have visited several com-munities to raise awareness of wildlife crime, what residents should look for while out on the land, and whom to call if they spot a potential issue or need assistance.

WED, in cooperation with EED and Policy, Planning and Coordination Directorate in Enforcement Branch Headquarters, supports a multi-year project, the Northern Environmental Enforcement Strategy. The aim is for interdepartmental environmental enforcement units to cooperate on enforcement efforts in order to identify and stop violators in Canada’s north.

Ontario Region

Ontario has 14 wildlife officers working out of four locations: Burlington, Ottawa, Windsor and Sault Ste-Marie.

Wildlife officers and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources conservation officers

Wildlife officers and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources conservation officers

Of all the regions, Ontario has the largest population, the busiest international airport and the busiest land border crossing, the second highest number of listed species at risk, and the most species of migratory birds.

Because of Ontario’s high volume of imports and exports, the majority of enforcement work carried out in the region is related to WAPPRIITA. Enforcement activities related to migratory birds protected under the MBCA deal mainly with hunting activities, but stopping incidental take, the inadvertent harming, killing or destruction of migratory birds, nests or eggs, is also a significant portion of the officers’ work.

Enforcement Highlights

Live reptile smuggling - A Montréal-area vendor of reptiles and amphibians was convicted in 2013 after pleading guilty to unlawfully importing animals through Ontario. He was fined $40,000 and received three years’ probation for illegally importing 132 tortoises, 90 chameleons, 20 iguanas and 25 monitor lizards.

Trafficking in reptiles results in unfair competition for law-abiding reptile breeders and traders. Some species are illegally harvested because it is cheaper than captive breeding, or because the species cannot be bred in captivity. These activities put additional stress on vulnerable species.

Snakehead fish import - An Ontario company and one of its employees pleaded guilty to two charges of illegally exporting an invasive species, snakehead fish (Channidae spp.), to the United States and illegally transporting snakehead fish from Manitoba to Ontario. The company and the individual also pleaded guilty to four counts under provincial law of illegally selling snakehead fish.

The company was ordered to pay $75,030 in fines and surcharges, with an additional $1,250 to be paid for the publication of notices that warn of the dangers of invasive species and outline the potential penalties for those who defy the law, and was sentenced to two years’ probation.

Polar bears on the James Bay coast waiting for the ice pack to form so that they can get to their winter feeding grounds

Polar bears on the James Bay coast waiting for the ice pack to form so that they can get to their winter feeding grounds

The individual received two 60-day jail terms to be served concurrently, followed by two years of probation, and had to pay $1,250 toward the warning publication. The individual was also ordered to pay a penalty of $13,000 USD for related charges brought by the USFWS and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Police.

Snakeheads originate from Asia and can become an invasive species. They are top-level predators and have no natural enemies outside of their native environment. Not only can they breathe air, but they can also survive on land for up to four days, provided they are wet, and are known to migrate up to 0.5 km on wet land to other bodies of water by wriggling with their body and fins. Each spawning age female can release up to 15 000 eggs, as often as five times a year. Many North American jurisdictions have made it illegal to possess live snakeheads.

Migratory Bird Sanctuary patrols on James Bay coast - Along with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, officers performed helicopter patrols in early October 2012 of Hannah Bay, Akimiski Island and Moose River Migratory Bird Sanctuaries on the remote James Bay coast. Three harvesters were encountered in one of the sanctuaries and were given warnings for minor violations. Working from Moosonee, the two WED officers conducted two days of aerial patrols covering the James Bay coastline from the Quebec border to the northern community of Attawapiskat. During the flights, 29 polar bears were observed waiting for the ice packs to form and give them access to their winter feeding grounds on James and Hudson bays.

Patrols of migratory bird sanctuaries are part of WED’s commitment to safeguard remote protected areas and to detect illegal activities before they become entrenched and normalized. Geese are an important food source and part of Aboriginal culture.

Our People, Our Partners

Canadian Waterfowl Advisory Committee - In January 2012, WED Ontario Region joined the Ontario Waterfowl Advisory Committee (OWAC) organized by the CWS, together with members from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. OWAC discussions focus on migratory bird population conservation and management and sustainable harvest.

Intelligence analyst training - In 2013, Ontario Region’s two intelligence analysts took a course organized by the Southwestern Ontario Chapter of the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts (IALEIA) on testifying in court. One analyst attended the Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU)/IALEIA training event in Coronado, California, and completed the Advanced Analytical Skills Training program. This supports Enforcement Branch’s investment in building an intelligence-led enforcement approach.

Quebec Region

Quebec’s 11 wildlife officers cover a vast territory measuring 1 667 441 km2 where the flora and fauna are impressively diverse. The region has two district offices in Montréal and Québec and one office in Harrington Harbour administered by Quebec district on the Lower North Shore. Quebec has 28 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, eight National Wildlife Areas, three international airports and 30 border crossings with four U.S. states.

Some of the ducks seized in the operation

Some of the ducks seized in the operation

Northern Quebec is an important focus. The increase in mining exploration in the north is attracting many non-Aboriginal workers to traditional Inuit, Cree and Naskapi territories, which in turn has led to an increase in illegal hunting activities in isolated areas.

Enforcement Highlights

Operation Marée Jaune - In fall 2012, Quebec Region conducted Operation Marée Jaune (“Yellow Tide”) to put a stop to the illegal activities of a large scale migratory bird hunting outfitter on the Sorel Islands in the St. Lawrence River. Guides working for this outfitter were baiting sites on the islands with corn kernels before taking clients there to hunt waterfowl.

The operation required 20 days of fieldwork involving wildlife officers from Québec, Montréal, Ottawa and Gatineau. Their activities included reconnaissance on sites including extended surveillance (day and night). On October 13, 2012, officers moved in:

  • Five hunters were in violation for hunting less than 400 m from a baited site and for illegal possession of ducks.
  • Two guides were in violation for hunting less than 400 m from a baited site.
  • One hunter was in violation for hunting without a permit and with the use of toxic shot.
  • Two ATVs were seized. One was equipped with a trailer; the other had a sled attached and was carrying
    44 bags of whole corn, 16 ducks and 13 12-gauge cartridges of toxic shot.

A shed used to store corn kernels at the hunting site; sacks are visible inside

A shed used to store corn kernels at
the hunting site; sacks are visible inside

Most importantly, charges were laid against the owner of the outfitting business and the three guides for baiting a site outside of the authorized period and for hunting within 400 metres of a baited site. The owner has a previous criminal conviction for baiting.

Illegal baiting presents unfair competition to law-abiding outfitters. Baited ducks--including threatened species--become “addicted” to this easy food source, which makes them more vulnerable. It also concentrates large numbers of ducks in the same area, depriving law-abiding hunters elsewhere of access to them.

Many local residents expressed satisfaction when they learned that charges had been laid in this case.

Our People, Our Partners

Regional joint forces team - Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans teamed up to focus on CITES-listed exports of narwhal and walrus ivory. Québec has the second-highest number of narwhal tusk exports in the country.

Wildlife officers inspecting fish and live coral at Montréal-Trudeau Airport

Wildlife officers inspecting fish and live coral at Montréal-Trudeau Airport

In 5 months, the team carried out 4 investigations on narwhal, 1 investigation on walrus and 20 inspections concerning applications for CITES permits, 17 of them on exporters’ premises. Officers from the team seized 5 narwhal tusks, 2 walrus heads with tusks and 2 bacula.

Atlantic Region

WED Atlantic Region is hometo 40 000 kilometres of coastline and includes numerous lakes, wetlands and rivers. Wildlife officers work to preserve a number of endangered species unique to this area: Blandings turtle, Atlantic whitefish, ivory gull, roseate tern, butternut, Furbish’s lousewort and boreal felt lichen, among others. The region includes the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Hunting gear with illegal bear meat that was seized

Hunting gear with illegal bear meat
that was seized

Atlantic Region wildlife enforcement staff work out of five regional offices in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Sackville, New Brunswick; and St. John’s, Lewisporte, and Corner Brook, Newfoundland; and a satellite office in Goose Bay, Labrador. There are currently 10 wildlife officers in this region.

Enforcement Highlights

New Brunswick/Maine border operation - In June 2012, 41 officers from eight different agencies took part in the operation at eight locations along the New Brunswick/Maine border.

A total of 162 hunters were inspected by officers, 34 recreational fishers were inspected by fishery officers, and 84 firearms belonging to the hunters checked were inspected by the RCMP National Weapons Enforcement Support Team. During the operation, WED officers found a total of 18 wildlife violations. Several items were seized, including bear meat, bear bacula, bear liver, an eagle feather and seal products.

Piping plover protection - Regional habitat is an integral component in the breeding, rearing and survival of the endangered population of piping plovers. In 2012, Canada supported 179 pairs, the lowest number in CWS records (since 1991) and far from the recovery-strategy short-term goal of 255 pairs. During the summer, wildlife officers conduct patrols, blitzes and surveillance to ensure compliance near plover habitat. The main enforcement issues are dogs, both on and off leash, and off-highway vehicle use on beaches. CWS works with local conservation groups to post signs at beaches to educate the public and to monitor the population and breeding success of birds during the nesting season.

Wildlife officer checking hunted murres

Wildlife officer checking hunted murres

Newfoundland and Labrador murre hunting - Atlantic Region is responsible for enforcing the only legal murre hunt in Canada; this hunt is open only to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. Murre hunting is a traditional activity and part of the cultural heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador. It was considered so important that maintaining it was one of the conditions for joining Confederation in 1949. During the hunt off Newfoundland and Labrador, about 200 000 murres are shot each year. In fiscal year 2012-2013, 12 individuals were charged and convicted of illegal activities while hunting murres in Newfoundland and Labrador, and total fines of $10,300 were levied.

Our People, Our Partners

Officers in Atlantic Region work frequently and closely with provincial natural resource officers and local fisheries officers. These partnerships are an integral part of regional wildlife enforcement, providing support and valuable information that leads to developing enforcement actions such as blitzes, apprehension operations and surveillance in areas of non-compliance.

A memorandum of understanding between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada allows the officers of each to act as first responders under the other organization’s laws. This allows for increase capacity during critical periods when immediate enforcement measures are needed.

Partnerships have been formed with other federal government departments, agencies and federal councils, the Atlantic provinces’ conservation enforcement agencies, communities, and environmental groups.


The WED team at Headquarters provides the support, guidance and direction that enables field officers as well as national and international partners to succeed. Headquarters helps coordinate training, acts as international liaison, develops intelligence and operational policies, and develops national planning and strategies for the Directorate.

National Public Service Week activities

National Public Service Week activities

Wildlife Enforcement Headquarters is divided into three groups that report to an executive director: the Program Support Division, the Operational Support Division and the Intelligence Division.

Headquarters staff coordinate WED activities within Enforcement Branch, namely with Enforcement Services Directorate (Learning and Development, Operational Policy, Regulatory Analysis), Policy, Planning and Coordination Directorate (Business Solutions, Planning and Reporting, and Strategic Policy) as well as with the Office of the Chief Enforcement Officer.

Over the last two years, WED has built up its intelligence capacity nationwide, and currently 12 people are assigned to intelligence functions across Canada. In 2012-2013, it produced assessments to identify high risk regulated species, protected areas and regulated activities. Intelligence assessments provide a foundation for risk-based planning for WED. Recommendations identify potential avenues for operational intervention.

We established a legal opinion library available to all officers and produce a weekly report of investigations and convictions for the Director General and the Chief Enforcement Officer. We also monitor enforcement activities nationwide to identify best practices and opportunities for partnership as well as distributing quarterly reports on jurisprudence to the regions and WED’s partners.

Headquarters is responsible for planning, generating activity reports, developing consistent business approaches and responding to all manner of questions from parliamentarians, senior officials and the public.

We also worked closely with the regions to launch a new approach to planning, priority setting and reporting.

Seized polar bear rug in Burlington

Seized polar bear rug in Burlington

Looking Ahead

Wildlife enforcement operates in a constantly changing economic and ecological context, in Canada and around the world.

Toward the end of fiscal year 2012-2013, we listened to dozens of staff, internal departmental partners and external agencies, getting their thoughts on the future of federal conservation enforcement. A five-year Wildlife Enforcement Strategic Plan will guide us in defining and achieving our goals into 2018, when we will celebrate the centennial of Canada’s first wildlife officer. It will focus on developing our people, prioritizing our activities based on risk, increasing our use of intelligence-led enforcement, engaging our partners and telling our story.

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