Alberta man fined $7,000 for removing ancient fossils from national park

CALGARY – An Alberta man has been fined $7,000 for trying to illegally export ancient fossils, minerals and gemstones to Japan.

Police say Terry Ciotka of Pangea Fossils pleaded guilty in Calgary court to not having proper export permits and lying about the value of the goods.

Court heard officers from the Canadian Border Service Agency became suspicious in August 2011 when Ciotka tried to take fossils, ammonites and ammolites across the border.

The fossils came from the Burgess Shale formation in Yoho National Park near Field, B.C., which is believed to be around 500 million years old.

Ciotka’s conviction is believed to be the first under Canada’s National Parks Act, which forbids anyone from taking plant or animal material out of a protected park.

An ammonite is a marine animal that became extinct about 65 million years ago; an ammolite is a rare opal-like gemstone formed from the shells of ammonites.

The only significant deposits of high-quality ammolites are found in a formation in southern Alberta. There are only two ammolite mines in Canada — both are in Alberta.