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Backgrounder

Operation Longtooth

On December 14, 2011, Environment Canada charged Gregory (Greg) Logan of Woodmans Point, New Brunswick, for offences under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). These charges were the result of an international investigation coined Operation Longtooth which began in April 2009 when Environment Canada’s Enforcement Branch received information from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA) regarding the illegal purchase of Narwhal tusks that originated from Canada. 

Using surveillance techniques, Environment Canada Wildlife Enforcement Officers observed Mr. Logan as he placed long, slender objects that appeared to be Narwhal tusks in the undercarriage of his vehicle. Mr. Logan then drove from St. Stephen, New Brunswick, to Calais, Maine. He was then observed travelling to a cargo courier in Maine where he deposited the objects for shipment to a United States buyer. Two Narwhal tusks were then recovered and seized by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Investigation techniques were used to provide evidence of Mr. Logan’s ongoing trafficking activities in Narwhal tusks including the execution of multiple search warrants, production orders, interviews of alleged accomplices and witnesses, as well as document seizures. Evidence seized from Mr. Logan’s residence included documents, the vehicle used in the smuggling operation, and a trailer with a custom-made, hidden compartment along with items used to pack the tusks for shipment. The investigation uncovered that between 2003 and 2009, Mr. Logan illegally exported about 250 tusks from Canada to the United States.

The Narwhal (monodon monoceros) is a medium-sized toothed whale that lives year-round in Arctic waters, generally above 61°N latitude, in Nunavut, west Greenland and the European Arctic. The two Canadian populations are referred to as the Baffin Bay and the Hudson Bay populations.

The Narwhal has been identified as a species of Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The Narwhal is also listed under Appendix II of the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement to protect endangered species. Any imports or exports of these species, their parts, and products made from them require a valid CITES permit. If CITES-listed wildlife is imported into Canada, exported from Canada, or attempted to be exported without the necessary permits, those goods are subject to seizure and forfeiture, while those responsible may be prosecuted. WAPPRIITA is the legislation through which Canada enforces and administers its responsibilities under CITES.

Protections for Narwhals in Canada include measures that manage the hunt, live capture, and movement of Narwhal products through the federal Fisheries Act and WAPPRIITA. Only Inuit can hunt Narwhal and there are annual limits in place on the number of animals each community can hunt. During some years, the number of tusks sold by Greg Logan would have accounted for about 15 percent of the annual Narwhal hunt limit in Canada.

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