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Canada's enforcement officers work with international partners to combat wildlife crime and illegal trade of protected species


Canada's enforcement officers work with international partners to combat wildlife crime and illegal trade of protected species

Canada NewsWire

OTTAWA, June 20, 2018 /CNW/ - Enforcing Canadian environmental and wildlife laws is one important way that Environment and Climate Change Canada is taking action to protect wildlife and nature. Poaching, smuggling, and trafficking of wildlife and polluting ecosystems threaten species along with hundreds of thousands of livelihoods in Canada, which depend on the sustainable use of wild plants and animals.

During the month of May, Environment and Climate Change Canada's enforcement officers, along with provincial and territorial enforcement agencies, participated in INTERPOL's Operation Thunderstorm, a month-long international operation aimed at averting illegal trade in wildlife, plants, and timber. The operation involved 92 countries, and it resulted in close to 2000 seizures worldwide of protected animals, plants, and associated products.

During the operation in Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada and conservation enforcement agencies in several provinces conducted hundreds of inspections and enforcement actions, including inspections of live animals in transport, responses to complaints of habitat and wildlife destruction, hunter/angler checks, and border-crossing blitzes. Officers intercepted items such as finished products made of Rosewood, shark fins, controlled snakes, and commercial products such as briefcases and handbags made with endangered species.

Canadian authorities detained 18 tonnes of suspected European eel meat arriving from Asia, which is designated as endangered and has been banned for export, by the European Union, since 2010.

Canada contributed to global Operation Thunderstorm results. Worldwide, the 92 participating countries reported seizures of

  • several tonnes of wood and timber;
  • more than 1 200 kilograms of raw and processed ivory;
  • more than 43 tonnes of wild meat, including bear, elephant, crocodile, eel, whale, and zebra;
  • 27 000 reptiles, including 869 alligators/crocodiles, 9 590 turtles, and 10 000 snakes; and
  • almost 4 000 birds, including pelicans, ostriches, bats, parrots, and owls.


"Wildlife crime is a major business that does not respect borders. That is why an effective campaign against environmental crime must be a united, coordinated, global, multi-stakeholder effort. I am proud that Canada's federal and provincial and territorial enforcement officers came together to play a significant part in this important continental operation."
Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

"Operation Thunderstorm has seen significant seizures at the global level, showing how coordinated global operations can maximize impact. By revealing how wildlife trafficking groups use the same routes as criminals involved in other crime areas—often hand in hand with tax evasion, corruption, money laundering, and violent crime—Operation Thunderstorm sends a clear message to wildlife criminals that the world's law enforcement community is honing in on them."
– Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of INTERPOL

Quick Facts

  • Currently, global wildlife crime—including poaching, smuggling, and trafficking of animals and plants—is estimated by the United Nations Environment Programme and INTERPOL to be worth over US$155 billion per year, making it the world's fourth most lucrative form of crime.
  • The illegal wildlife trade is typically run by criminal networks with wide, international reach, whose activities threaten protected wildlife species, affect vulnerable communities, and can undermine national economies.
  • Operation Thunderstorm 2018 is the second in a global Thunder series initiated by the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group. The month-long operation (May 1 to 31) was coordinated across all continents by INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization, with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime.
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada enforces federal wildlife legislation that protects plant and animal species, particularly in interprovincial and international trade. Provinces and territories manage conservation and regulate the harvest of wildlife in their jurisdictions. Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officials participated in Operation Thunderstorm alongside INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, and several other countries.

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Associated Links

Environment and Climate Change Canada's Twitter page

Environment and Natural Resources in Canada's Facebook page


SOURCE Environment and Climate Change Canada

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