Australians attempting to import wildlife items have been warned to abide by strict border controls or risk prosecution, following the seizure at an Australian airport of a Canadian grey wolf pelt – complete with ears, nose, snout, paws and tail.

Although the pelt had been declared it did not have the appropriate import permit as required under Australia’s commitment to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The convention aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wildlife does not threaten their survival. It accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,600 species of animals and plants through regulating trade in these species.

The pelt, which includes the snout and paws, had been purchased by a Perth man whilst on holiday in Canada.

It was intercepted by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers at a Perth parcel courier depot last week and will now be destroyed.

The ABF administers border controls in relation to wildlife trade on behalf of the Department of Environment and Energy.

The northern and southern grey wolf sub-species are not listed as a Species at Risk in Canada, but can only be caught or hunted with a permit or licence.

Acting Superintendent Paul Barfoot from ABF Customs Compliance Operations said it is the importer’s responsibility to ensure that all permit requirements are met prior to the importation.

Wolf pelt is inspected. Photo, Australian Border Force

“In this case no permit had been issued from the Department of Environment and Energy, which is the authorising body responsible for issuing such permits under CITES,” Acting Superintendent Barfoot said.

“On this occasion, because the pelt was declared, the man will receive an official warning and loss of his item, but the community should be aware that offences relating to the importation of CITES listed wildlife under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $210,000.

“The Australian Government is fully committed to playing a lead role in the global regulation of the trade in wildlife items.”