If you remember, a few weeks ago, I wrote a post called All The Pretty Dead Things, in which I discussed the plethora of bones, dehydrated animals, and other suspiciously taxidermized items at the antique market where I work. They sell like crazy, and over the last few weeks, I’ve had to ring dried rabbit ears, cow ribs, hawk legs, and even a whale vertebrae through the till, much to my dismay, because I don’t believe for a second that a whale vertebrae was ‘ethically sourced’. But apparently someone else agreed with me, because when I dropped Kate off at work the other day, there were several official looking men speaking with the owner. AND THEY HAD WARRANTS. They were from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and if you don’t know what that is, imagine the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and then pretend they’re Canadian. Because the NRF has just as much power as the ATF and are also allowed to carry guns, although none of the guys who were at the market were armed.
The MNR showed up unannounced, based on a tip from someone who had been in the market and was taking pictures of things that they deemed illegal. Their first stop was a booth run by a friend of mine which happened to have a vintage stuffed and mounted fish, which generated much consternation among the Ministry agents, despite the fact that the fish in question had been caught approximately 40 years ago. So I just now googled “Can I sell a stuffed rainbow trout in Ontario?” and the answer was a) ABSOLUTELY NOT and b) terrifying because according to their website, even if the fish is long dead, if you get caught, you can face fines up to $100 000! And I’m so happy I didn’t know that when I sold Frank, the stuffed and mounted fish that I found at the side of the road and sold for ten dollars at a yard sale over two years ago (the post where I wrote about it was called One Man’s Junk, in case you’re interested).
The MNR was there all day, going over each of the almost one thousand booths with a fine-toothed comb, and ended up confiscating not only the stuffed trout, but a variety of other animal products, including half the inventory from the booth that sells exclusively jewelry made from animal bones and terrariums containing desiccated barnyard animals. Ironically, they DIDN’T take the whale vertebrae, because apparently that’s not their jurisdiction. So I guess we’ll be receiving a visit from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries soon—do you think they carry guns or harpoons?