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Ontario man fined $200,000 for damaging endangered species habitat

This March 11, 2009 file photo shows a spotted turtle at Region 8 DEC headquarters in Avon, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File) This March 11, 2009 file photo shows a spotted turtle at Region 8 DEC headquarters in Avon, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)
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A Chatham-Kent man has been ordered to pay a $200,000 fine after pleading guilty to damaging the habitat of three endangered species.

A news release from the Ontario government says the province is “safeguarding biodiversity by enforcing habitat protection for species protected under the Endangered Species Act.”

Jean Marie Laprise of Chatham-Kent was ordered to pay the hefty fine to Ducks Unlimited Canada.

The court heard that in or around January 2015, Laprise, the owner of a wetland, constructed a dike system which removed approximately three acres of marsh habitat and created additional partitions within the marsh.

The property, bordering the shoreline of Lake St. Clair, consists of approximately 300 acres of wetland and provides essential habitat for threatened and endangered species.

“The work undertaken impacted the endangered Spotted Turtle and Blanding’s Turtle and Least Bittern, which are both listed as threatened,” said the province.

Due to the circumstances surrounding this matter, a multi-year investigation was required.

Charges were laid in June 2018, and Justice of the Peace Peter M. Byskal heard the case in Ontario Court of Justice, Chatham, over multiple dates. The case was decided on Dec. 7, 2022.

Activities impacting species at risk and protected habitat can be reported by calling 1-866-MOE-TIPS (663-8477) or through the online reporting tool. Members of the public can report sightings of endangered species to the Natural Heritage Information Centre or at iNaturalist.ca.

To report other natural resource problems or provide information about an unsolved case, members of the public can call the ministry TIPS line toll free at 1-877-847-7667. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS. For more information about unsolved cases, please visit ontario.ca/mnrftips.

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