An Ontario man was fined $15,000 for attempting to smuggle illegal medicinal leeches into Canada. On May 24th, Ippolit Bodunov of Niagra Falls, Ontario, pleaded guilty to this bizarre crime after Canadian Border Services caught him last October.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada's enforcement officers, Canada does not tolerate the sale of exploited species for profit. The agency strives to ensure that every transaction of live animals is done within legal boundaries to protect the natural environment.
In addition to the fine, which will go towards the government's Environmental Damages Fund, Mr. Bodunov will forfeit the right to import, export, or possess any Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora regulated animals.
When Ippolit Bodunov landed at Toronto's Pearson Internation Airport on October 17th, 2018, Border Services alerted the Environmental and Climate Change agents that the man was carrying a large number of live leeches in his carry-on luggage.
Mr. Bodunov was then detained and the carry-on was confiscated to determine the legality of the leeches. With the help of Dr. Sebastian Kvist, the leeches were identified as illegal and were taken from the smuggler.
Instead of pulling off what he undoubtedly thought was the smuggle of the century, Mr. Bodunov got caught red-handed trying to illegally import live leeches into Canada. These leeches come from a species called Hirudo verbana, the only species of leech that is strictly regulated to control their trade.
The illegal wildlife trade is a $20 billion USD a year business according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.
A $15,000 dollar fine is a massive price to pay for trying to smuggle such a thing so I'm sure the man won't attempt to smuggle anything ever again.
Remember, if you need to transport live animals, you must get a permit from Environmental and Climate Change Canada to ensure you're within legal bounds.
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To read more information about this story, please consult the official Government of Canada press release.