12/11/2014 12:45 EST | Updated 02/10/2015 05:59 EST

Banff swim in forbidden snail pool ends with charges

A man is facing fines of $75,000 and a year in prison after a forbidden swim in a thermal pool in Banff.

At approximately 2 p.m. MT on Nov. 26, Parks Canada employees reported that a man was bathing in the thermal pool in the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, which is home to the endangered Banff Springs snail.

Park wardens responded and arrested the suspect, who was charged with entering a closed area under the National Parks General Regulations and Species at Risk Act.

According to Parks Canada, the Banff Springs snail is "the most at-risk species in the park." The snail is about the size of a lemon seed and only exists in a handful of thermal springs at the historic site on Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park.

 In 2005, the population was measured at only 34,000, but the population fluctuates. The snail isn't found anywhere else in the world.

The man is scheduled to appear in court in Canmore on Jan. 14. He is charged with entering a restricted area under national parks regulations and damaging critical habitat of a species at risk. The first carries a maximum fine of $25,000 and the second a maximum fine of $50,000 or imprisonment for a term not more than one year, or both.

As the matter is before the courts, Parks Canada would not comment further on the situation.