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Ontario taxidermist fined $60K for polar bear pelt fraud

An Ontario taxidermist has been fined $60,000 after violating federal wildlife law for illegal polar bear exports.

In a statement, Environment and Climate Change Canada reported that in Oshawa court on Tuesday, Cyril D’Souza, of Uxbridge, pleaded guilty to two counts of violating federal wild animal and plant protection rules.

D’Souza’s $60,000 fine will be directed to the federal government’s environmental damages fund.

The ministry says wildlife enforcement officers began an investigation in the summer of 2018 after they discovered inconsistent information in permits used to export a polar bear mount and two hides from Ontario to China.

The ministry says under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, Canadian exporters must obtain a permit before exporting regulated species.

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“The investigation revealed that D’Souza was deceptive and planned extensively in intentionally providing false and misleading information to obtain the permit,” the ministry stated.

The ministry says its wildlife enforcement officers used a number of methods in its investigation that identify and track legal polar hides, including analyzing muscle tissue DNA, analyzing the stable isotope of fur samples, and inserting encrypted microchips to track polar bear parts from harvest through export.

“The collaboration with law enforcement agencies in Nunavut, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and in the United States was key in the investigation,” the ministry stated.

The court also ordered the taxidermist to forfeit one full polar bear mount and two hides or rugs.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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