2015-2016 Annual Summary Wildlife Enforcement Directorate
Message from the Director General (DG)
2015-2016 was a remarkable year for Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Wildlife Enforcement Directorate (WED) – one with a cohort of new officers trained, commendable results and significant recognition for our efforts to conserve wildlife and habitat at risk in Canada and around the world.
First, we saw several momentous prosecutions come to a successful close with courts ordering over one million dollars in penalties – a record for our organization. These prosecutions demonstrate our strong, shared commitment to protect Canada’s wildlife and habitat.
Second, WED took significant steps to deepen our cooperation through everything from joint investigations with federal, provincial and territorial enforcement agencies to our engagement with our neighbours in the United States and Mexico as well as globally with the INTERPOL and the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime. These partnerships make us a stronger and more strategic enforcement organization.
Third, we kept intelligence high on our priority list, and as a result saw advancements for the Enforcement Branch Intelligence Renewal Project. A comprehensive criminal intelligence program means more sophisticated planning, targeted operations and a nimble organization at all levels. We have become better at finding important non-compliance issues and focusing the strength of our team against them.
Reporting on our actions is an important part of accountability and is a chance to showcase the action we are taking to fulfil our mandate. I’m proud to say that WED, together with our partners, is working to achieve our ultimate goal: to protect wildlife and habitat now and for generations to come.
Finally, a note regarding several of the pictures in this Annual Summary: WED officers are fortunate in that they get to see a lot of this big and beautiful country. Many of the images in these pages are from a photo contest we held earlier this year among staff. The winning picture was taken near the British Columbia – Alaska frontier and is featured on the cover. It comes to us courtesy of Officer Gordon Barker of our Whitehorse, Yukon office.
I hope you enjoy all the news - and pictures - on the pages that follow!
We are pleased to present Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) 2015-2016 Annual Summary for the Wildlife Enforcement Directorate (WED) which covers the reporting period from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.
This Summary is divided into four main sections: Enforcement Highlights, Our People, Our Partners and Our Resources.
In these sections, you will find key enforcement statistics for the year, an overview of our achievements and a detailed account of many of the enforcement actions taken by WED in the fiscal year 2015-2016.
This report also provides current information about some of the species and habitats across Canada that WED is mandated to protect and conserve under the federal legislation we enforce.
WED’s 2015-2016 Accomplishments
Over the course of the year, we conducted over 4,900 inspections and over 240 investigationsunder the legislation we enforce.
These inspections resulted in 908 enforcement measures, which include prosecutions, tickets, warnings and compliance orders.
Investigations regarding alleged offenders led to 158 convictions and 167 new prosecutions.
Our work resulted in over $1.1 million in penalties, which is the most ever in our history.
Our largest penalty was $750,000, which was imposed against a natural gas facility for its role in killing approximately 7,500 migratory birds that came into contact with burning natural gas from a flare stack. You can learn more about this case on page 6 of this report.
What Legislation is WED Responsible for?
In Canada, wildlife and its habitat are governed by several pieces of important federal, provincial and territorial legislation. The Wildlife Enforcement Directorate (WED) of ECCC’s Enforcement Branch (EB) is responsible for enforcing five federal acts and their related regulations:
Species at Risk Act (SARA)
Canada Wildlife Act (CWA)
Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA)
Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA)
Provisions of the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act concerning wildlife
Together, these pieces of legislation protect plant and animal species in Canada and aim to conserve vulnerable ones in particular. The laws control human interventions, such as hunting or trade that could adversely affect long term wildlife conservation if not properly regulated. In many jurisdictions our officers may also have authority to enforce the Fisheries Act or provincial / territorial wildlife legislation.
We work very closely with EB’s Environmental Enforcement Directorate (EED), which is responsible for enforcing the federal government’s pollution and hazardous substances laws: the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, as well as the pollution prevention provisions of both the Fisheries Act and the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act. Areas of collaboration include joint investigations of habitat and pollution crimes, training, operational assistance, intelligence as well as in program supporting functions. Learn more about EED and the important work they do every day for Canadians and the environment.
How Does WED Enforce Legislation?
WED has a team of 85 wildlife enforcement officers across Canada that have the legal authority and powers to enforce the legislation we are responsible for. These wildlife officers conduct inspections to verify compliance with legislation, undertake investigations when non-compliance is suspected, and enforce applicable legislation throughout Canada in collaboration with other provincial, territorial and federal government departments, as well as international agencies.
Our enforcement operations are informed and supported by a team of 15 skilled criminal intelligence professionals who use techniques and software to understand and predict patterns of non-compliance to better target enforcement interventions and compliance promotion efforts.
Finally, WED has a robust team of support staff who provide a foundation for our operations and programs.
To be a highly regarded law enforcement agency, respected for its effectiveness in the protection of wildlife and their habitat in Canada and for its contribution on the world stage.
To protect, respect and conserve wildlife and their habitat through the effective enforcement of federal wildlife legislation.
WED’s Guiding Principles
Achieving maximum deterrence by preventing and stopping crime, and prosecuting offenders.
Demonstrating leadership and vigilance locally, nationally and globally.
Engaging our partners to ensure our common goals are realized.
Engaging our staff at all levels to develop a national program and recognize the importance of individual contributions to this effort.
WED’s 2015-2016 Priorities
WED focusses its enforcement efforts on species at high conservation risk and/or at high risk for non-compliance. While routine and complaints-based inspections remain an important part of our enforcement program, our planned and targeted inspections are prioritized using a risk-based approach with information provided by our intelligence program. Combining these factors helps enable us to identify potential offenders who cause the most damage and to protect species at the highest risk from non-compliant human activities.
Our three priorities for 2015-2016 included:
Canadian species at high conservation risk and/or at high risk for non-compliance
Foreign species at high conservation risk and/or at high risk for non-compliance
Habitats or protected areas at high conservation risk and/or at high risk for non-compliance
Annual Summary of Activities
Enforcing federal wildlife legislation is what we do. From coast to coast to coast, we work in every province and territory to conduct inspections and enforcement activities under our five federal wildlife-related acts.
Priority 1: Canadian Species at High Risk
Large Penalties Issued for Violations of Migratory Birds Legislation
Canada is home to dozens of species of migratory birds, some of which reside in Canada year round and others which migrate into and through the country to breed. The MBCA protects migratory birds as well as their nests and eggs across Canada. It also governs the hunting of birds by identifying how and when certain species may be legally harvested. Enforcement is a key activity in ensuring that migratory bird populations remain healthy for future generations.
In 2015-2016, WED had some key successes that support the conservation of migratory birds:
In New Brunswick, a major prosecution surrounding migratory birds came to a close this year with a significant penalty being ordered against Canaport LNG Limited Partnership. This case began in 2013, when WED’s officers were notified that thousands of migratory birds were found dead on the grounds of the facility in Saint John. Upon inspection, it was confirmed that over 7,500 migratory birds had been scorched to death while flying over the facility late at night. The birds were drawn to the facility by a large gas flare that occurred during a period of fog and low clouds.
An investigation ensued in which electronic documents were seized which, if printed, would stack up equal to the height of the CN Tower. Among the evidence uncovered was proof that the facility knew for years that there was a risk of a flare off killing migratory birds yet mitigation measures were not put in place. Computer records also revealed a second, unreported incident of birds being killed during a previous flare off.
In November 2015, Canaport LNG Limited Partnership pleaded guilty to charges under MBCA and SARA in relation to the death of these birds. The company was sentenced to fines and penalties totaling $750,000. The money will be directed to a variety of conservation, research, and scholarship projects.
In British Columbia, Progress Energy Canada was sentenced to pay a $250,000 fine when migratory birds were killed following the illegal deposit of harmful substances during hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, near the community of Wonowon in the north east corner of the province. The violation led to the death of 17 birds after flow back fluids containing condensate, a form of petroleum liquid hydrocarbons, were returned to the surface and stored in an open above-ground tank. No deterrents were in place to keep the birds from landing in the contaminated liquid. The fine will be paid to the Environmental Damages Fund to support conservation projects.
In Québec, nearly 200 inspections were conducted to combat the illegal hunting of migratory birds on Lac St-Pierre. Of these inspections, 64 violations were found and fines were issued totalling $47,800.
In Manitoba, a fish and wildlife border blitz was held to inspect hunters and fishers returning to the United States. Two individuals were found to have exceeded possession limits for birds protected under the MBCA and were charged a combined total of $1,150 in fines.
Border Blitz Uncovers Black Bear Parts
Across Canada, black bears are harvested as a game animal species. In some provinces, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia, they are also harvested as a furbearer species under the authorization of hunting and trapping permits or licenses. The predominant method of harvest is hunting, and black bear hunting trophies are a common Canadian export. Management of the black bear harvest in Canada is conducted with the long-term goal of ensuring population sustainability.
In 1992, the black bear was listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) due to the growth of illegal trade of endangered bear parts – primarily gall bladders but also other parts – in Asia. Under CITES, Appendix II-listed species require a valid export or re-export permit to be legally transported internationally.
In 2015-2016, WED coordinated an inspection blitz at several New Brunswick-US border crossings to ensure hunters were not illegally transporting black bear parts used in traditional medicines from Canada to the US.
A total of 200 inspections of outbound travellers were conducted. Officers seized:
These inspections led to the identification of 30 violations under WAPPRIITA and other federal and provincial legislation.
22 tickets and eight warnings were issued.
Inspection blitzes, like this one, are important to monitoring and ensuring the harvest and international trade of the species is sustainable and not put at risk by non-compliance.
Protecting Endangered Piping Plovers
In 1986, the piping plover was designated an endangered species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and became protected under SARA when the prohibitions against killing listed species came into effect in 2004. Piping plovers are also protected under MBCA.
Currently, there are only approximately 200 breeding pairs of the species in Canada. The piping plover is highly vulnerable to human activity and are suffering due habitat loss and threats from human activities such as motorized traffic on beaches.
Given its critically low population, preventing crime from happening to endangered species such as the piping plover is a priority for WED.
In 2015-2016, several blitzes and enforcement actions were taken across the country to protect piping plover populations and educate the public about the vulnerability of the bird:
On Prince Edward Island, WED organized a two-day blitz of PEI National Park and the eastern and northeastern shores of the island. This blitz was carried out in cooperation with Parks Canada Agency wardens and provincial conservation officers. Over the course of two days, federal and provincial officers conducted 24 inspections. While no violations of federal laws were cited, 46% of the inspections found violations of provincial legislation.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, officers conducted a similar patrol of the southwestern coast of the island after receiving a complaint that all terrain vehicles (ATVs) were being used on beaches where birds nest. This patrol led to an individual being issued a ticket for operating an ATV in a protected area.
In Québec, officers continued to conduct their annual patrol of the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where piping plovers are known to nest. Over the course of 2015-2016, six written warnings and three tickets were issued for activities that threatened the nesting birds.
In Ontario, for the first time since the 1930s, a pair of piping plovers was found nesting on a popular beach near downtown Toronto. Officers set up protection for the nest to support its success. Although the nest was unfortunately washed away with heavy flooding in the area, it was an encouraging sign that piping plovers are returning to the Great Lakes.
Local Action to Protect Bank Swallows
The bank swallow is a small insectivorous songbird that was found widespread across Canada. In the last 40 years, bank swallow populations have suffered a severe long-term decline, amounting to a loss of 98% of its population.
The reasons for these declines are not well understood, but are likely driven by the cumulative effects of several threats. These include loss of breeding and foraging habitat, destruction of nests during aggregate excavation, collision with vehicles, widespread pesticide use affecting prey abundance and impacts of climate change which may reduce survival or reproductive potential.
Bank swallows breed in a wide variety of natural and artificial sites characterized by vertical banks. This includes riverbanks, lake and ocean bluffs, gravel and sand pits, road cuts, and stock piles of soil. Managing aggregate operations to avoid the disturbance of nesting bank swallows and to provide ongoing habitat supports efforts to recover populations. Enforcement operations concerning bank swallows complimented with compliance promotion efforts by ECCC’s Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) are ongoing across the country.
In 2015-2016, following an investigation in Nova Scotia, WED wildlife officers discovered that 10 bank swallow nests had been destroyed at local sand pit. Shortly after this discovery, the owner of the sand pit was charged and convicted under the MBCA and fined $812.50. Since then, the owner has dedicated and protected a portion of the pit to nesting swallows, foregoing the economic benefit of that part of the facility. This work was undertaken with advice from biologists at the CWS, who are now monitoring the nest to determine the success of the project.
Fines Issued for the Illegal Harvesting of American Ginseng
American ginseng is an extremely slow-growing plant that takes seven to ten years to reach reproductive maturity. Once mature, a plant produces an average of only 25 seeds. However, only one in 200 of these seeds will produce a fertile plant, and a colony needs approximately 170 plants to remain viable. Due to its slow-growth, illegal harvesting of wild American ginseng is exceptionally detrimental to the species. In fact, there are only a few dozen viable populations of American ginseng left in Canada, located in Québec and in Ontario.
For several years now, WED’s wildlife officers have been monitoring American ginseng on federal lands.
After finding evidence that ginseng was being illegally harvested, officers launched a surveillance program in conjunction with conservation officers from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. This surveillance led to officers apprehending two individuals in possession of American ginseng with a foreign market value of between $190,000 and $380,000. In total, 251 ginseng roots were seized from the individuals’ backpacks and an additional 129 roots were seized from their truck. Both individuals pleaded guilty and were fined $9,000.
Dall’s Sheep Hunted Illegally in Yukon
The Dall’s sheep is a species of thinhorn sheep that live in the mountainous areas of the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, and to a lesser extent British Columbia. One of the Dall’s sheep most distinguishing features is its white coat. During the summer months the sheep are typically found higher in the mountains and split into groups of rams, and groups of ewes and lambs, where they feed in alpine meadows. In the winter, the weather typically drives them into lower elevations on south facing slopes.
In 2015-2016 following an investigation by WED and Yukon conservation officers, two individuals who were licensed to hunt Dall’s sheep in British Columbia were found guilty of hunting and killing two sheep in Yukon and then falsely declaring them killed in British Columbia. Forensic photographic evidence was used in court to match and positively identify the kill sites in Yukon. The individuals pleaded guilty and were sentenced to pay $7,500 each in fines for violating WAPPRIITA. They also received a 3-year prohibition from obtaining either a Yukon export permit or a federal CITES permit.
Priority 2: Foreign Species at High Risk
Auction House Illegally Exports Protected Species
In February 2016, an auction house in Québec, IEGOR Hôtel des encans de Montréal Inc., was fined $33,500 for unlawfully exporting products made from wildlife and for knowingly possessing controlled wildlife products for the purpose of exporting them from Canada. Both of these actions are prohibited under WAPPRIITA.
Fourteen art items were seized and forfeited during the investigation were worth approximately $30,000 including items containing:
To investigate this file, wildlife officers worked in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service officers from Florida, Nevada and New York, as well as the RCMP.
Priority 3: Habitats or Protected Areas at High Risk
Lower North Shore of Québec
The Lower North Shore of Québec has nine Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBS) consisting of several islands, islets, rocks, and waters surrounding the islands. The small terrestrial portions of MBS are composed of tundra, stunted conifers, rocky outcrops and small ponds. Many of the sanctuaries on Québec’s Lower North Shore were established in the 1920s to protect essential nesting sites for various species of colonial, passerine and especially seabirds such as the common eider, common murres, Atlantic puffins and razorbills. It is one of the richest seabird nesting areas in the North Atlantic and as such, also attracts vulnerable species.
WED and CWS are in the second year of a six year project targeting illegal harvest in the area, with the objective of increasing bird populations over that time period.
WED’s officers assisted biologists from CWS in June 2015 to launch a five-year survey of marine birds in the sanctuaries located in the target area. This survey is important for collecting key data on the birds.
WED has taken proactive measures to controlling predators on islands, such as foxes, which present a risk to vulnerable colonies of nesting seabirds.
During the seabirds’ critical nesting period, which occurs from May to July, wildlife officers patrolled the area to check for non-compliance particularly to deter illegal collection of eggs.
52 inspections were completed. Of these, eight turned into investigations that resulted in 12 charges being laid. At the same time, seven seizures of toxic (lead) shot occurred even though its use has been illegal for waterfowl hunting in Canada since 1999.
Our people are our greatest asset.
Operating out of 5 regions and 21 offices across the country, our 119 employees’ expertise and passion drives our mandate and fuels our work to protect and conserve vulnerable wildlife populations and habitats across Canada.
Investing in our people is one of our top priorities. Here is what we did this year to grow the skills and expertise of our employees:
Training for New Recruits
When we hire wildlife officer candidates, they are required to complete extensive training in order to be designated to enforce the law. A main component of this training is Accredited Enforcement Training. It covers ethics, rights, peace officer powers, interviewing, photography, investigation methods, detentions, search warrants and courtroom practices. This training is complemented by sessions that focus specifically on wildlife legislation and enforcement, called Wildlife Enforcement Standardized Training. Specialized training on firearms, handling dangerous animals and emergency vehicle driving skills is delivered as well.
In 2015-2016, WED was proud to graduate 12 new wildlife enforcement officers from its training program. At the graduation ceremony, ECCC’s former-Associate Deputy Minister, Siddika Mithani, presented the newly appointed wildlife officers with their badges and designation cards.
Operation Aurora - Polar Bear Three-Pronged Approach Training
The Polar Bear is one of Canada’s many iconic species. Native to all three territories as well as four of the ten provinces, its rich fur is sought after around the world. Canada has made significant efforts to protect Polar Bear populations to ensure their continued healthy populations in this country. At the same time, sustainable harvest and trade of the animal by Indigenous communities contribute cultural, food and economic benefits in the North. WED has worked for years with governments, communities and regulators under a project dubbed Operation Aurora to ensure that the trade and transport of harvested specimens is compliant so as to protect both the species as well as the benefits drawn from its sustainable use.
In 2015-2016, WED collaborated with Inuit and First Nations communities, provincial and territorial agencies, and ECCC’s CWS and Science and Technology (S&T) Branch, to pilot an innovative “three-pronged approach” to identify and track legal polar bear hides once they enter trade.
Why did we do this?
There are foreign markets for legally-harvested Canadian species.
Canada is open to and encourages international scrutiny of sustainable trade.
Under trade agreements, consumer countries may put in place trade restrictions or barriers if the source countries do not show good environmental management.
Isolated communities are particularly dependent on wildlife trade.
We need to not only ensure trade is sustainable but also that specimens are traceable to validate they are legally obtained and traded.
The approach consists of three elements: DNA analysis (genotyping) of muscle tissue, stable isotope analysis (SIA) of fur samples, and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tagging, which is the insertion of encrypted microchips to track polar bear hides from harvest through export. Using all three methods together strengthens polar bear identification and facilitates legal trade through a more efficient process than paper and harvest tag verification.
To implement this new approach, a joint WED and CWS team trained 30 conservation officers from the Government of Nunavut, and later seven conservation officers from the Nunatsiavut Inuit Government in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.
To support the process, genotyping is conducted at ECCC’s Pacific and Yukon Laboratory for Environmental Testing (PYLET) in North Vancouver, British Columbia and SIA is done at ECCC’s National Hydrology Research Centre (NHRC) lab in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Effective and efficient enforcement of wildlife cannot be done alone. Why? Because birds migrate, animals cross borders and plants, animals and wood products are traded.
Partnering with other law enforcement agencies and intelligence networks is critical to our work. When we work together we can be more effective, sophisticated and responsive, and better equipped to target the worst wildlife offenders.
Partnerships make us stronger. The following paragraphs describe what we did this year to foster our partnerships.
WED’s Leadership at INTERPOL
Wildlife and forestry poaching and trafficking continues to be among the most lucrative crimes worldwide. In fact, the illegal trafficking of fauna is estimated to be valued between US $7 billion and $23 billion globally. When flora, including lumber, is added to the total, the number increases to an estimated US $57 billion to $175 billion (UN Environment Programme / INTERPOL).
Illegal trafficking threatens economies, ecosystems and security in many countries. Poaching and trafficking often involves vulnerable charismatic megafauna, including Canadian species. Further, it is estimated that between one fifth and one third of the world’s paper comes from illegally sourced wood. These worldwide phenomena impact Canada, with its highly regulated sectors, both economically and ecologically.
WED is proud to be a leader in the international actions taken to combat illegal trafficking of flora and fauna through its involvement in INTERPOL’s Wildlife Crime Working Group.
In November 2015, Sheldon Jordan, Director General of WED and current Chair of the Wildlife Crime Working Group, led the working group’s annual meeting at the newly-opened INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore. This meeting allowed for countries to exchange intelligence, share best practices and plan international enforcement operations.
The meeting was attended by about 50 countries and 30 civil society organizations. It provided advice and direction on enforcement and compliance issues to other members of the International Coalition to Combat Wildlife Crime, which, in addition to INTERPOL, also includes the CITES Secretariat, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Customs Organization and the World Bank.
At this meeting, Canada was re-elected for a second term as Chair of the Working Group, along with an executive team comprised of members from Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand and the United States.
Presentations from this meeting may be viewed at: http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Environmental-crime/Environmental-Compliance-and-Enforcement-Committee/Wildlife-Crime-Working-Group
Conference on Wildlife & Forest Crime in the Americas
Over three quarters of Canada’s wildlife trade is within the Americas. Most of our migratory birds spend winter south of us. Our country has strong economic and cultural ties not only with our neighbours in the United States and Mexico, but also the Caribbean and increasingly South and Central America. In October 2015, Lonny Coote, Regional Director for Ontario, represented Canada at the first Regional Conference on Wildlife & Forest Crime: Law Enforcement in the Americas. This conference was held in Cancun, Mexico, and was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Mexican Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) and the World Bank.
Along with Canada, thirteen countries from Central and Latin America attended this landmark conference. At the conference, countries committed to a list of fourteen principles and an action plan that aims to better organize local efforts to combat wildlife crime in the region.
Forensic Analysis of Wildlife
WED has developed two important partnerships with ECCC’s S&T Branch laboratories to support its on-going need for species identification. This year we’ve seen these partnerships grow:
ECCC’s Pacific and Yukon Laboratory for Environmental Testing (PYLET) provides molecular-based applications to identify unknown species. The toxicology department is a centre of excellence for toxicogenomics analysis, and since 2013 the lab has identified more than twenty-five species in direct support of WED’s enforcement investigations. More recently, the lab acquired a next-generation DNA gene sequencer which supports enforcement operations. Exciting progress has been made using the equipment to identify polar bear subpopulations and to differentiation between individual animals, significantly aiding WED’s enforcement efforts. PYLET is one of only six wildlife forensics laboratories in the world to have obtained full ISO certification.
For the past 15 years, the Environmental Toxicology section (ETOX) at PYLET has incorporated molecular analysis and has successfully developed molecular-based protocols for microarray analysis, bacterial source tracking and species identification. Since testing began, ETOX has analyzed over 120 wildlife and plant samples for WED, leading to the identification of zebrafish, Glo Fish®, African lion, fin whale, black bear, ivory palm, shark fin, rhino horn, and elephant ivory, including from forest, Asian and bush elephants.
Over the past year, ETOX has undertaken important work to support WED by testing illegally imported shark fin. This is commonly imported due to its cultural significance and supposed medicinal properties. There are 8 species of shark listed in CITES, and due to highly controversial harvesting and processing techniques, importers are sometimes unaware of the species of shark they are importing. To support WED, ETOX randomly sampled 16 shark fins from a shipment containing approximately 400 processed fins declared to be Blue Shark. Findings showed that amongst the 16 random samples, there appeared to be eight different species of shark – none of which were Blue Shark. Using this sampling method, WED is now working with PYLET scientists and shark fin specialists in the US to compile an identification guide for processed fins to assist with visual identification in the field.
Worldwide, Crime Stoppers® is known for its work in helping link communities and police, through both its outreach programs and local tip lines. In March 2016, staff from WED attended a symposium sponsored by Crime Stoppers of Ontario® to address illegal trade of wildlife in that province. As a result, both organizations have embarked on a one year pilot project to work together to find ways to curb environmental crime.
Operation Nunakput is an annual marine patrol of the Mackenzie River, its delta and the coastal waters of the Beaufort Sea.
The Mackenzie River is the largest and longest river system in Canada, measuring a total of 1,738 km from source to end. It flows through a vast, isolated region of forest and tundra within Northwest Territories, with tributaries from three provinces.
This year’s patrol launched from the community of Hay River and finished in Tuktoyaktuk. Aboard were officers from EB, RCMP, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Canadian Forces.
The purpose of the patrol was to:
maintain and enhance operational readiness in a marine environment;
respond to calls for service/complaints;
participate in training exercises and scenarios;
conduct community engagement.
Several of WED’s wildlife officers participated in the operation and travelled a total of 3925 km onboard to conduct inspections of remote areas, follow-up on complaints, engage with local communities and gather intelligence on suspected illegal activities.
Communities visited during the patrol include: Hay River, Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Tulita, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope, Tsiigehtchic, Fort MacPherson, Aklavik, Inuvik, and Tuktoyaktuk.
In September 2015, the Enforcement Branch was invited for a second consecutive year to travel aboard the HMCS Shawinigan to participate in a 15-day operation through the Northwest Passage.
During this operation, named Qimmiq, wildlife officers completed inspections under the MBCA and the CWA of remote, protected areas located in the Canadian Arctic. This included inspections of the Prince Leopold Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area.
The operation departed from south end of Cornwallis Island near Resolute Bay, Nunavut and finished in the territorial capital of Iqualuit. One tanker vessel was observed inside a national wildlife area and was directed to alter course to exit it. Post-operational analysis of intelligence resulted in four warnings being sent to ship owners for allegedly being unlawfully in protected areas in the Arctic.
WED’s participation in Operation Qimmiq provided an important opportunity to work with other agencies in the North and exchange information about this remote and difficult-to-access area.
Our resources enable us to act quickly and act effectively. They are our foundation and they provide us with guidance. They are what keeps our operations running smoothly and what keeps us safe.
Our resources include among other things our sampling gear, protective equipment, vehicles, boats, uniforms, equipment, policies, protocols, and guidance documents.
Our resources are the backbone to our success. Here are two key projects that enhanced our resources this year.
DNA Sampling Guide
The Operations Support Division of WED, in collaboration with ECCC’s S&T Branch, has developed a practical guide on DNA sampling of fauna and flora. This guide is for front-line wildlife officers when gathering evidence in the field to assist them when collecting, packaging, storing and shipping evidentiary samples.
Since DNA analysis of fauna and flora is a constantly evolving field and the work of officers in identifying species is becoming increasingly complex, development of such a guide had become essential. Thanks to this guide and its timely updates, our officers are equipped to effectively adapt to required changes.
New Intelligence Products and Training
Over the past few years, a priority of the EB has been to renew its intelligence program, making intelligence a driver of operations and enforcement planning. Becoming an intelligence-driven organization has been a key factor in WED’s increasing operational success in a time of tight budget allocations.
This year, we took important steps to further the Intelligence Renewal Project. With the investments WED has made as an organization as an intelligence-driven organization at all levels, we are now a leader in the field among wildlife enforcement agencies worldwide. Training was developed by EB that has been delivered to all staff and new procedures implemented to ensure the use of intelligence in all strategic and operational planning. This included the launch of two new products:
Intelligence Lexicon – a compendium of terms, with the purpose of standardizing language used by staff in intelligence reports and products. Consistency is important for an organization that is spread across the country and has a broad mandate.
Probability Terms for Intelligence – a document that explains expressions of likeliness that an assessed event or development will occur. This is critical when setting priorities and deploying our resources.
Together, these products strengthen the intelligence program by providing internal consistency and by laying a foundation for alignment with other partners in the Government of Canada’s intelligence community.
Taking Our Actions Forward
The 2015-2016 fiscal year was an important year for WED. In addition to conducting nearly 5,000 inspections and taking more than 900 enforcement actions, this year was also marked by the growth of our partnerships, resources, skill sets and capacity.
We are particularly proud of the work we have done this year, both at home and on the international scene. Safeguarding wildlife and its habitat is critical to ensuring its viability and sustainable use for generations to come.
As we look forward to 2016-2017, we face significant opportunities and challenges. While we remain focused on our mandate, wildlife crime is on the rise around the world. To respond, we will continue to undertake initiatives that deepen our partnerships with national and international organizations, and strengthen our capacities to detect, intervene and take actions against the most serious violators of wildlife legislation.
In particular, in 2016-2017 we look forward to:
Providing advanced training to WED’s wildlife officers on the safe handling of venomous animals, as well as hunting trophies.
Continuing our work to position our Intelligence function as a key driver of our operations.
Further enhancing the sophistication of our information technology resources and capabilities so we can be better equipped to target the worst offenders.
Continuing to implement the Three-Pronged Approach in Indigenous communities in the North.
Deepening our partnerships with key organizations through formalized mechanisms to ensure a coordinated approach to enforcement.
Continuing to engage with our partners and stakeholders locally, nationally and internationally to advance our expertise on combatting wildlife crime.
Through these actions and others, WED will continue to show its leadership on the protection and conservation of wildlife and its habitat in Canada and abroad, while contributing to a world where sustainable use is not threatened by law.
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