Michigan Man Smuggles Illegal Polar Bear Trophy from Canada

Courtesy of flickr user xrayspx under creative commons license.
By Danny Fenster

Sometimes it takes a rug, and sometimes it takes a polar bear trophy to really tie a room together. Such must have been the case when 73-year-old Jenison, Mich., resident Rodger Dale DeVries attempted to illegally import a polar bear trophy from Canada in 2007.

According to a plea agreement announced on Wednesday, DeVries obtained a license from Canada’s Nunavut Territory to hunt and kill the bear in the Foxe Basin in November of 2000, knowing the bear could not be legally imported into Michigan.

DeVries kept the trophy in a Canadian storage unit until July 3, 2007, when he picked it up with his two grandsons, boated it over to Raber Bay, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, then brought it home and sold the boat a few days later.

Problem was, the act was a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), according to federal authorities.  The bears have been listed as a “threatened species” since 2008 under the Endangered Species Act.

“The polar bear is an ecological and cultural treasure of the American and Canadian Arctic,” said Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno. “We will not tolerate the illegal importation of polar bear trophies and will fully prosecute all violations of federal law.” That could potentially mean a year in prison and maximum fines of $100,000.

Maybe next time Devries will settle for using a rug to tie the room together.

Devries pleaded guilty Aug. 22. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy P. Greeley in Grand Rapids, Mich. Sentencing is set for Sep. 8.

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