Published in The Winnipeg Free Press January 15, 2015 http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/eatery-owner-caught-with-bear-parts-288648991.html
A Manitoba restaurant owner was busted in an undercover sting operation after trying to solicit customers for black bear parts he claimed would be used to make soup. The case, which played out in a Minnedosa courtroom late last month, is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the province.
Jun Shao Lin, 38, pleaded guilty to charges under the Wildlife Act and wildlife regulations. He was given a fine worth almost $7,000, and was banned from hunting for one year as part of a joint recommendation from lawyers. "He showed little concern for conservation," said provincial court Judge John Combs upon hearing the facts Dec. 23.
Conservation officers received a confidential tip in February 2013 that Lin had made an unusual request of a man who was dining at Sun Sun Chinese Restaurant. 'They weren't for resale. He was using them for his mother's medication'-- defence lawyer Norman Sims "He wanted the head, paws and gall bladder of a bear so he could make soup," reads a statement of facts presented in court, which was agreed to by the defence.
Under federal legislation, it is illegal to buy, sell or trade North American bear gall bladder or any wild animal parts. "These laws are in place to protect the bear population in Manitoba and to avoid laundering of the parts, which are nearly impossible to distinguish from endangered species found in Asia, the Asiatic and sun bear, a Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship spokesman told the Free Press.
The department launched a special investigation dubbed Operation Sunscreen. During the next 14 months, an investigator visited Lin at his restaurant on several occasions and had discussions about black bear parts, court was told. Lin told the undercover investigator he knew what he was doing was illegal and repeatedly warned him to keep quiet. Conservation ultimately sold Lin a handful of gall bladders as part of the investigation. Lin paid them in various ways, including free meals and gas money.
Officials executed a search warrant at his business in June 2014 and seized one dried gall bladder, one fresh gall bladder and one bear hind quarter. During the raid, Lin's wife tossed one of the gall bladders out of a window in an attempt to avoid detection. Defence lawyer Norman Sims told court despite what his client said, he didn't get the bear parts to serve to his customers. "They weren't for resale, He was using them for his mother's medication," said Sims. Bear gall bladders are an ingredient in traditional oriental medicine and can garner high prices in Asia, court was told. While one sells for between $50 and $100 in Canada, it can fetch several times the price in other markets.
Lin was also caught in possession of 97 whole walleye, which exceeded the amount he was allowed to have by 65 fish under Manitoba fishery regulations. No explanation was provided as to why he had so many.
Lin came to Canada in 1997 and became a citizen in 2001. He is married with two young children and has been living in Minnedosa and operating his restaurant for the past couple of years. He declined to say anything in court when given an opportunity by the judge.
The only similar case in recent local history was one involving a man caught in possession of a bald eagle head and a polar bear pelt he used as his living room carpet. "Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship would like to thank the public for their support and information that led to this successful investigation," a spokesman said in a statement.
"Anyone with information about illegal activities related to natural resources should call their local Manitoba Conservation office."