Going to Canada? Leave the leeches home

Let the word go forth: Don’t try to smuggle leeches into Canada.

The Duluth News Tribune reports two men — Russell R. Sikkila Jr. of Chisholm and Carl W. Brandt of Forest Lake — have been fined $800 and $1,500. That’s the penalty for hiding bags of leeches in a worm cooler when they crossed the border at Fort Frances.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Canada Border Services Agency officers conducted an inspection of Sikkila’s boat at the remote customs entry station on Sand Point Lake on July 18. Officers located a cooler containing three white foam containers. While all three containers were marked as housing worms, which are allowed, one held 12 live leeches instead. Officers verified that Sikkila was working as a commercial fishing guide in Crane Lake and was on his way to the Ontario waters of Sand Point Lake where he intended to use the leeches as bait.

On June 27, Canada Border Services Agency officers at the Fort Frances port of entry contacted Brandt and conducted a secondary inspection of his vehicle. During the inspection, officers located a cooler that was filled with paper bedding and worms. Officers dug through the bedding and located two plastic bags that contained four pounds of live leeches. Conservation officers then verified that Brandt was on his way to go fishing and was intending to use the leeches as bait.

Some of the fisherpeople who cross the border try to outwit the Ontario authorities. Last January, for example, two men from Alabama has 12 more walleye than allowed. So they cut them up so authorities wouldn’t recognize them as walleye. The game warden recognized a walleye, even when it’s cut up.

It cost the gents $5,600, the News Tribune says.