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GLIN==> Felony Convictions for Illegal Import and Export of Prote...

--------------- cc:Mail Forwarded ---------------
From:     NEWS@fws.gov AT FWS
Date:     02/11/2000 03:54 PM
To:       fws-news@www.fws.gov AT FWS
Subject:  Felony Convictions for Illegal Import and Export of Prote...

                                   Subject:Felony Convictions for Illegal
                                   Import and Export of Protected Birds
                                   February 10, 2000

For immediate release.  For more information Ellen Kiley 716/691 3635 Gary
Colgan 519/826 2107

 Joint Investigation by the U.S. and Canadian Wildlife Services Results in
 Felony Convictions for Illegal Import and Export of Protected Birds.

     Buffalo, N.Y. Based on evidence gathered by the Special
Agents of the United States Fish
& Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Game Officers of the Canadian
Wildlife Service, Johanne
Flikkema, part owner of Flikkema Aviaries, pleaded guilty to
the illegal import of African
finches from Canada.

     Commenting on the conviction, George A. O'Hara, Special
Agent in charge for the
Northeast Region of USFWS said, "This international effort is a
reflection of the U.S. and
Canada's commitment to protect the world's wildlife resources
and sends a message that the
illegal transport of protected species will not be tolerated."
Gary Colgan, Chief of Compliance
and Enforcement for the Canadian Wildlife Service added, "This
is a fine example of cooperative
work between Canada and the U.S."

     On February 10, in the U.S. District Court in Buffalo,
Johanne Flikkema of Fenwick,
Ontario, Canada pleaded guilty to one felony violation under
the Wild Exotic Bird Conservation
Act and another felony violation on a charge of false statements.

     The violations involved bringing wild finches from Africa
into the U.S. via Canada. The
birds were then sold to stores and individuals in the U.S., in violation of
both Canadian and U.S.

     In Canada, in 1997 and 1998, Johanne and her husband, Mike
Flikkema, each pleaded
guilty to four violations under Wild Animal and Plant
Protection Act and Regulation of
International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA)
relating to the illegal importation of
birds listed under the Convention on International Trade of
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (CITES) into Canada.

     Flikkema was arrested on October 6, 1999 in Lewiston, N.Y.
by Special Agents of the
USFWS. At the same time, Game Officers from the Ontario Region
of the Canadian Wildlife
Service executed a search warrant at Flikkema Aviaries in
Fenwick, Ontario for possible
violations of Canadian laws, including WAPPRIITA.  Several
search warrants were also
executed at various locations around the United States. "More
charges are likely to follow," said
Bill Donato, Senior Resident Agent for the USFWS in N.Y. "This
case involves quite a few
individuals who made a profit from the depletion of the world's rare

     On February 1, 2000 Johanne Flikkema, her husband Mike
Flikkema, and their son
Harold Flikkema were all arrested by the Canadian Wildlife
Service on similar charges of
illegally importing protected birds into Canada and
re-exporting them to the United States, in
violation of WAPPRIITA. They also face conspiracy charges related to these

     The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was assisted by the New
York State Department of
Environmental Conservation and the United States Customs
Service and the Buffalo Zoological
Gardens. The case is being prosecuted by the United States
Attorney's Office for the Western
District of New York in Buffalo. Sentencing is set for June 1,
2000 in front of Judge Skretny in
U.S. District Court in Buffalo.
     The Wild Exotic Bird Conservation Act was signed into
legislation in 1992 to protect
wild bird populations declining due to the increased demand for
these birds as pets, as well as the
high mortality rate associated with their capture and shipment.
Although international legislation
already existed to protect wildlife exploited by
commercialization, the Wild Exotic Bird
Conservation Act represented stronger measures taken by the
United States, one of the world's
largest importers of wildlife, to protect wild populations of
exotic birds. The Wild Exotic Bird
Conservation Act prohibits the importation of birds listed as
protected under CITES, a United
Nations Treaty that monitors and regulates the international
trade in wildlife. Penalties under the
Wild Exotic Bird Conservation Act range from a maximum of two
years in jail and/or a
maximum fine of $250,000.

     The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of
International and Interprovincial
Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) was implemented in Canada in 1996 to meet
Canada's obligations
under the CITES treaty. The Canadian Wildlife Service is
responsible for enforcing this
legislation. The maximum penalties under WAPPRIITA are 5 years
in prison and a C$150,000C$300,000 fine for a corporation.

     A charge of false statements under U.S. law can result in
a maximum sentence of five
years in jail and a fine of $250,000.

     For further information contact Ellen Kiley the U.S. Fish
& Wildlife Service in Amherst,
N.Y. at 716/691 3635, or Gary Colgan of the Canadian Wildlife Service at
519/826 2107.

                             - FWS -

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