The Wildlife Symposium will take place at Newmarket Theatre on Pickering Crescent on Thursday, March 31, 2016 from 6:00-9:00 pm. Joining Crime Stoppers of York Region at the Symposium will be a number of other federal and provincial organizations concerned about the rise in wildlife trafficking, including the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, York Regional Police, The Toronto Zoo, the Ontario SPCA and Environment Canada Wildlife Enforcement.
The wildlife being taken from York Region’s lakes, rivers, forests and wetlands include everything from bear and moose to rare and endangered turtles. Some of the turtles most frequently targeted by traffickers include wood turtles and spotted turtles. The global illegal wildlife trade, which includes elephant ivory tusks, is estimated to be worth approximately $30 billion a year. Animals targeted by illegal traffickers include rare species prized by collectors and endangered animals killed for food.
“Poaching is a serious issue which can have detrimental impacts on the sustainability of turtle populations,” says Dr. Andrew Lentini, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles, Toronto Zoo. “The Toronto Zoo is proud to be a long-standing partner of the Ontario Association of Crime Stoppers. The partnership between Toronto Zoo and Crime Stoppers to address the serious issue of illegal turtle and other wildlife harvest and trade provides the ideal communications network for these issues.”
“The illegal trade of wildlife is the fourth most lucrative criminal activity worldwide, only exceeded by the trade of narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking," says David Forster, President of the Ontario Association of Crime Stoppers and the elected Canadian Representative to Crime Stoppers International. "Crime Stopper programs throughout Ontario, Canada and the world are assisting law enforcement by engaging the community to anonymously report these illegal activities to Crime Stoppers.”
Jack Hurst, Chair of Crime Stoppers of York Region and the organizer of the Symposium, adds that “people should watch for suspicious activity in natural areas, including off-trail activities, overnight parking, or anglers carrying unusual equipment such as snares or a large number of buckets. We encourage people to get involved and help prevent the trafficking of our wildlife.”
Residents who suspect poaching near their homes or farms can anonymously call Crime Stoppers toll-free at any time of the day at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or they can call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry tip line at 1-877-847-7667.
For more information, please contact Crime Stoppers of York Region at (905) 830- 0303, ext. 6767.