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Ontario man gets hefty fine for swimming with endangered snails in Alberta


Dalia Ibrahim
Digital Reporter

Saturday, January 17, 2015, 3:24 PM - A judge has fined an Ontario man $4,500 for taking a dip in a thermal pool in Banff National Park that is home to a type of endangered snail.

Bailey Thomas Townsend, 27, admitted to swimming in the thermal pool in Banff National Park on Nov. 26, 2014. 

He pleaded guilty in a Canmore, Alta., court to entering a restricted area under the Canada National Parks Act and damaging critical habitat under the Species at Risk Act.

Townsend had reportedly been warned by Parks Canada staff that he couldn’t swim in the thermal pool at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, but he returned later in the day and ignored the No Swimming signs posted around the pool.

Officials say an inspection made by an expert showed the microbial mat, which is where the snails feed and lay their eggs, was disturbed and even removed in three main areas of the thermal pool during the incident. 

The site is the only place where the Banff springs snail can be found. It made history in 1997 after becoming the first mollusk to be designated as threatened. Three years later it was redesignated as endangered. It is considered the most at-risk species in Banff park. 

With files from Metro News and The Canadian Press

SEE BELOW: Punk rock snails

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