Toronto Man Sentenced To Jail Under Species At Risk Act
SARNIA, Ont. -- August 5, 2009 -- Pak Sun Chung of Toronto, Ontario, pleaded guilty yesterday in the Ontario Court of Justice – Sarnia/Lambton Court on two counts of unlawfully capturing Blanding’s turtles and a spotted turtle contrary to the Species at Risk Act. Mr. Chung was apprehended with 26 live Blanding’s turtles and one spotted turtle. He was sentenced to nine months in jail and given three years’ probation.
“Today’s decision demonstrates that environmental enforcement works,” said Environment Minister Jim Prentice. “Protecting and preserving Canada’s natural treasures is a high priority for our Government.”
Mr. Chung was arrested on August 23, 2007 in a joint operation by Environment Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources officers. He was charged with the unlawful capture and unlawful possession of the turtles, which were taken from the waters of the Walpole Island First Nation.
Kung Wing So of Toronto, who was arrested with Mr. Chung, was fined $10,000 and given three years’ probation on September 10, 2008. The fine was directed to the Environmental Damages Fund. So’s conviction was the first under the Species at Risk Act in Ontario.
The spotted turtle was already dead when seized, but the Blanding’s turtles were returned to the wild by authorities. Both types of turtles are listed in Schedule I of theSpecies at Risk Act. Thespotted turtle is listed as endangered and the Blanding’s turtle (for its Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population) is listed as threatened.Spotted turtle numbers are declining partly due to collection for the pet trade. Blanding’s turtles are also desirable in the pet trade. Removal of individual turtles from the reproducing population is a severe risk to the survival of the species.
Canada’s Species at Risk Act is the Government of Canada’s principal legislation to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct and to secure the necessary actions for their recovery. The Act aims to prevent Canadian indigenous species, subspecies, and distinct populations from becoming extirpated or extinct, provide for the recovery of endangered or threatened species, and encourage the management of other species to prevent them from becoming at risk.
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Minister of the Environment
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