Two Quebec men face 30 charges involving the illegal possession, transport, export and trafficking of endangered-animal body parts used in traditional Asian medicine.
Environment Canada officials laid the charges after being alerted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service that black bear gall bladders were being sold via the Internet. An extensive investigation uncovered a large network of trafficking in gall bladders and other wildlife parts with possible links in Ontario, Quebec, the United States and Asia.
The charges, laid against the two men in late February and early April, involved the illegal possession of 505 black bear gall bladders, which are believed to have been transported from Quebec to Ontario.
The charges were laid under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of Interprovincial and International Trade Act. The maximum fine under this act is $25, 000 and or six months in jail per violation.
Environment Canada wildlife officers worked with La Société de la faune et des parcs du Québec conservation officers as well as conservation officers with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources during the ongoing investigation.
Last November , a series of search warrants were executed in Ontario and Quebec. Hundreds of black bear gall bladders were seized along with documents.
Black bear gall bladders are used in traditional Asian medicine. Their value on the black market ranges from $2,000 to $10,000 per gall bladder, Environment Canada reported.