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Man fined for attempting to smuggle leeches


NIAGARA FALLS, Ont.—An Ontario man who tried to smuggle a bag full of medicinal leeches into Canada has been fined $15,000.

The federal government says Ippolit Bodounov, of Niagara Falls, Ont., pleaded guilty last week to violating the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

They say Canadian border guards notified Environment and Climate Change Canada that a passenger arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport from Russia with a “large quantity” of live leeches in his carry-on luggage.

An invertebrate expert at the Royal Ontario Museum identified the animals as Hirudo verban, one of only two species of medicinal leech that is regulated due to over-harvesting in the wild.

A DNA analysis of the gut contents of 240 leeches revealed the animals came from the wild.

Bodounov did not have a permit to import the animals and must now forfeit them.

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