12/11/2014 12:56 EST | Updated 02/10/2015 05:59 EST

Banff Bather Faces Hefty Fine For Swimming With Endangered Snails

BANFF, Alta. - A man has been charged for taking a dip in a thermal pool that is home to a tiny endangered mollusk in Banff National Park.

Parks Canada says the man was caught last month bathing at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site — the only place on Earth where the endangered Banff springs snail is found.

The man faces charges of damaging or destroying critical habitat under the federal Species At Risk Act and of entering a restricted area.

Parks Canada says the charges carry penalties, including fines, of up to $75,000 and one year in jail.

The man, who Parks Canada did not name, is to appear in Canmore court on Jan. 14.

Parks Canada says the snail made history in 1997 as the first mollusk ever to be listed as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. It is considered the most at-risk species in Banff park.

A government website says the snail was redesignated as endangered in 2000, which means it faces imminent extirpation or extinction.

Parks Canada says the snails thrive in water between 30° and 36°C — which is slightly cooler than the average relaxing bath.

The government says people who bathe in the thermal spring pool can kill or harm snails by disturbing their eggs or fouling the water with chemicals, deodorants and insect repellents.


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