The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Environment Canada
News Release

Eagle Smuggler Fined $14 000

Toronto - September 26, 2001 - A traveler bringing back a live eagle was convicted yesterday for violations of Canadian wildlife protection legislation in the Ontario Court of Justice (Provincial Division). On April 6, 2001, a rare Changeable Hawk-eagle was discovered in a piece of luggage by Canada Customs officials at Pearson International Airport, inside a small, gift-wrapped box.

Mr. Xuan Thanh Dang of Toronto was convicted for violating section 6(2) of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) for importing wildlife without appropriate permits. The Court imposed a sentence of $5,000, as well as an additional $9,000 in costs, which represented the veterinary expenses incurred to date to care for the animal. The Court also ordered forfeiture of the animal.

The very young bird endured the long flight from Vietnam to Canada with little air and no access to food or water. Its beak was taped closed, and it had a broken wing. In addition, the bird has a condition known as metabolic bone disease, which is induced by a calcium deficient diet. Without an adequate source of calcium, captured birds of prey do not develop healthy bones. The disease has caused deformities in the bird’s feet, which prevent it from standing or perching normally.

“The success of this investigation can be attributed directly to the teamwork between all agencies involved,” said Gary Colgan, Chief of Wildlife Enforcement for Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service. “Without the support of Canada Customs and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who detected the illegal import, and the Ontario Veterinary College and the Toronto Zoo, who continue to provide exemplary care for the injured animal, we could have been looking at a much different end result.”

The Changeable Hawk-eagle is protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In Canada, as of 1996, CITES is implemented through WAPPRIITA, under which it is an offence to import or export CITES protected species, including their parts or products, without the appropriate CITES Permit. Environment Canada is responsible for the enforcement of this legislation.

Persons convicted under WAPPRIITA may be fined up to $150,000, or five years in prison on indictment. The penalties are less for summary conviction. Corporations face fines of up to $300,000.


CITES was established to protect wild animals and plants from over exploitation by regulating their international trade. Canada was an original signatory to the Convention in 1975 and is among 151 other countries around the world that enforce CITES today.

Gary Colgan
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
Telephone: (905) 319-6960 or Cell: (905) 973-7616
Photos are available on request.

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