01/15/2015 02:28 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT

Minnedosa restaurateur fined in bear-parts investigation

A restaurant owner in Minnedosa, Man., has been fined almost $6,900 after he was caught trying to buy bear parts, including black bear gall bladders, to be used in medicinal soup.

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship says Jun Shao Lin of Sun Sun Chinese Restaurant pleaded guilty in December to seven violations of the Wildlife Act and related regulations. He was fined a total of $6,891 and banned from hunting for one year.

The department's Natural Resource Officers Special Investigations Unit launched a 14-month undercover operation after it was alleged that Lin had asked a customer if he could acquire the head, paws and gall bladder of a bear so he could make soup.

A family member at the restaurant told CBC News the bear remains were meant for medicinal purposes, intended to help an ailing relative.

The gall bladder of a bear is sought after as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine, according to a government official, who added that it's illegal to buy, sell or trade wild animal parts in the province.

"In traditional Asian medicine and other parts of the world where it's considered a delicacy, it fetches a fairly large amount of money. Like, a bear gall in China will go upwards of the tens of thousands of dollars," said Jack Harrigan, manager of compliance and field services with Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship.

During the undercover investigation, Lin offered on numerous occasions to buy or trade black bear gall bladder and other parts, according to the province.

Harrigan said he does not believe Lin bought the bear parts in order to re-sell them.

Officers searched the restaurant in June 2014 and seized one dried bear gall bladder, one fresh bear gall bladder, one bear hind quarter and 97 walleye.

Lin pleaded guilty to three violations of the Wildlife Act, three wildlife regulations violations, and one violation of fishery regulations.

"Trafficking in animal parts is really the concern, and worldwide it's into the billions of dollars," Harrigan said.

"Even though our Manitoba population is stable, if it goes unchecked it can lead to exploitation of certain species."

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship is asking anyone with information about any illegal activities related to natural resources, including wildlife, to call their local conservation office or the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-782-0076.