08/02/2013 08:45 EDT | Updated 10/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Alleged Bear Paw Smuggler Makes First Court Appearance


A Richmond, B.C. man makes his first court appearance today, facing charges under the Wildlife Act for attempting to smuggle bear paws through the Vancouver Airport.

Zhen Kun Chen was busted at an airport inspection station in August 2011 carrying three bear paws from two different black bears in his carry-on luggage.

“We know they were animals that were harvested in this province,” says Dave Cox, a B.C. conservation officer.

“The individual was en route to China, so it’s difficult to say exactly where he was headed with them.”

Bear paws are prized in China for their use in traditional medicine and also as a culinary delicacy that can fetch up $500 a plate.

Zhen could be sentenced with up to six months in jail and a $250,000 fine, or just the fine alone. He will appear in court again in September.

Also on HuffPost