Investigation involving Parks Canada park wardens, the RCMP, the Longueuil Police Department, and the Royal Ontario Museum results in the forfeiture of 45 fossils, a $20,000 fine and five months of house arrest
May 12, 2022 Lake Louise, Alberta Parks Canada Agency
Parks Canada is responsible for protecting nationally significant examples of cultural and natural heritage, including the renowned Burgess Shale fossil sites in both Yoho and Kootenay national parks, and is proud to help share this incredible story with visitors. To conserve and protect national parks for present and future generations, the removal of any natural objects such as fossils, plants, or animals is prohibited under the Canada National Parks Act.
In summer 2020, Parks Canada park wardens in Lake Louise received a tip from a member of the public regarding fossil removal from the Burgess Shale. An investigation during the summer and fall of 2020 led to a search warrant. Park wardens from La Mauricie National Park and the Québec Waterways, and the Longueuil Police Department executed the search warrant at a private residence in the Montreal area on November 20, 2020. The search recovered 45 fossils, which were identified by an expert from the Royal Ontario Museum as originating from sites within Kootenay, Yoho, and Jasper national parks. The majority of the fossils originated from the Burgess Shale Marble Canyon Quarry in Kootenay National Park, an area not currently accessible to the public.
The individual responsible was sentenced to forfeiture of the 45 fossils, a $20,000 fine and a five-month conditional sentence order which included a curfew order. This is the largest fine that has been levied to date for the removal of fossils from the Burgess Shale, and demonstrates the seriousness of the offence and the importance of this site. The money from the fine will go to the Environmental Damages Fund and be used to support projects that restore nature and conserve wildlife and habitats.
This was a complex investigation that demonstrates Parks Canada’s commitment and support from partner agencies to protect Canada’s natural heritage. Parks Canada would like to thank all those involved, including the RCMP, the Longueuil Police Department, the Royal Ontario Museum, and Parks Canada park wardens from BC, Alberta and Québec.