Wildlife smugglers busted

Environment Canada officers conducted a two-week "blitz" at the Beaver Creek border in September to monitor the illegal trade of wildlife.

Environment Canada officers conducted a two-week “blitz” at the Beaver Creek border in September to monitor the illegal trade of wildlife.

Drivers were found carrying parts of walrus, black bear, grizzly bear, sea otter, caribou, moose, eagle (feathers), coyote, Dall sheep and even the baleen of a bowhead whale.

Officers conducted 23 seizures and uncovered more than 50 violations of territorial and federal laws.

Offenders ranged from the benign, who simply didn’t understand what they had to declare at the border, to admitted smugglers with animal parts found in hidden compartments of their vehicles, said John Wong, regional director of wildlife enforcement.

Not all animal meat would be bound for a dinner plate. There’s a growing overseas market for the gall bladders of bears, thanks to claims made by Chinese traditional medicine practitioners, who view the bladders as cures for everything from erectile dysfunction to cancer.

Other items, such as walrus bones, are prized by native carvers.