Ernie Cooper

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Ernie Cooper
Born Ernest Walter Thomas Cooper
(1956-09-16) September 16, 1956 (age 60)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Occupation Biologist, wildlife conservation advocate, former Federal Game Officer
Years active 1988–present

Ernest Walter Thomas Cooper (born September 16, 1956) was the first Wildlife Inspector in Canada.[1][2] Currently he is a Director for the conservation organization WWF-Canada (World Wildlife Fund Canada) and the Canadian National Representative of TRAFFIC the global wildlife trade monitoring network.[2] In 2009 an article in Canadian Geographic referred to Cooper as “Canada’s top wildlife-trafficking investigator.” [3][4][5][6][7]

Early life[edit]

Cooper was born and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, the son of Lillian Cooper (born Francis) and Walter Cooper. He has five older sisters: Rosemary, Patricia, Christine, Maureen and Sharleen. In 1980 he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (Marine Biology Program) from the University of Victoria.[1][4][6]


In 1988, while working for the Vancouver Aquarium, Cooper was offered a contract to identify wildlife products seized by Canada Customs for the enforcement of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).[1][4][6]

In 1992, he became a Federal Game Officer for Environment Canada and Canada's first wildlife inspector. Cooper was stationed in Vancouver, British Columbia and was primarily responsible for the enforcement of CITES. In Canada, CITES is enforced via the Wild Animal and Plant Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).[1][2][4][8]

During his enforcement career (as a contractor and Wildlife Inspector) Cooper conducted inspections of more than 4,000 shipments of wildlife and wildlife products; identified more than 250,000 CITES listed specimens for the enforcement of CITES; and provided training to more than 800 officers from Canada, United States and Mexico on topics including CITES, international wildlife trade and the identification of wildlife products. Cooper has published numerous articles and reports and has been quoted extensively in the media.[2]

Since joining WWF and TRAFFIC in July, 2001, Cooper has continued to work to ensure that international wildlife trade is sustainable and legal. He provides advice on wildlife trade issues, works with Canadian authorities, and assists the TRAFFIC network’s global conservation efforts.[2] In 2009 Cooper spearheaded the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on co-operation between TRAFFIC Canada and Environment Canada’s Wildlife Enforcement Directorate (WED) on furthering the implementation and enforcement of wildlife trade regulations in Canada. It was the first such agreement between WED and a non-governmental organization (NGO). Since 2014 Ernie Cooper is no longer with WWF/TRAFFIC.[9]

Cooper is a Canadian authority on wildlife trade, CITES and enforcement of WAPPRIITA; and is an expert in the identification of wildlife products and by-products.[1] He has been actively involved in the conservation of many species including tigers,[1] seahorses,[1] sharks, tuna and red and pink corals (Corallium),[10] and has worked to end the illegal trade in products from endangered species such as bear bile and rhinoceros horn.[3] He is an expert on the identification of products made from reptile skin and other exotic leathers.[11][12]

Cooper is also an Adjunct Professor for the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.[2][13]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Cooper, E.W.T., Torntore, S.J., Leung, A.S.M, Shadbolt, T. and Dawe, C. (2011). Guide to the Identification of Precious and Semi-precious Corals in Commercial Trade. TRAFFIC North America and WWF-Canada. Vancouver.ISBN 978-0-9693730-3-2
  • Arndt, A., Speller, C., Cooper, E., Skinner, M., and Yang, D. (2010). Ancient DNA Analysis of Dried Coral Samples: An Accurate DNA-based Identification of Threatened Species for Support of Wildlife Trade Law Enforcement Needs. American Academy of Forensics Science. Poster.
  • Cooper, E.W.T. (2006). The Kaiser’s Spotted Newt – Traded to the Brink of Extinction. The TRAFFIC Report, Vol.5 No. 1, p: 6.
  • Cooper, E.W.T., and Shadbolt, T. (2006). An Overview of the Illegal Trade, Market Forces and Fur Industry Perceptions in North America and Europe. TRAFFIC North America and World Wildlife Fund, Vancouver, B.C. 76 pp.
  • Cooper, E.W.T., and Chalifour, N., (2004). CITES, Eh? A Review of Canada’s Implementation of CITES Under WAPPRIITA. TRAFFIC North America and World Wildlife Fund, Vancouver, B.C. 124 pp. ISBN 0-89164-173-4.
  • Lourie, S. A., Foster, S.J., Cooper, E.W.T. and Vincent, A.C.J. (2004). A Guide to the Identification of Seahorses. Project Seahorse and TRAFFIC North America. Washington, D.C.; University of British Columbia and World Wildlife Fund. 114 pp. ISBN 0-89164-169-6.
  • Cooper, E.W.T. (2003). Enforcement support training by Justice Institute of British Columbia. TRAFFIC Dispatches, No. 20, p: 13.
  • Yates, B.C., Dratch, P.A. and Cooper, E.W.T. (1995). Manipulated Genitalia: Evidence of Fraud in the Wildlife Medicinal Trade. Presented to the Northwest Association of Forensic Scientists Annual Meeting. Poster.
  • Cooper, E.W.T. (1991). An Introduction to Rearing Larval Marine Fishes. FAMA, February 1991, pp: 120 -121, 126, 128.
  • Ishiyama, M., Yoshie, S., Teraki, Y., and Cooper, E.W.T. (1991). Ultrastructure of Pleromin, a Highly Mineralized Tissue Comprising Crystalline Calcium Phosphate Known as Whitlockite, in Holocephalian Tooth Plates. In S. Suga & H. Nakahara (Eds.) Mechanisms and Phylogeny of Mineralization in Biological Systems. Chap. 4.19, Tokyo, Japan.
  • Cooper, E.W.T. (1989). The Skin Trade in Western Canada; Importations of Reptile Products from 1986 to 1989. Presented to the Thirteenth International Herpetological Symposium. Proceedings pp: 205-214.
  • Cooper, E.W.T. (1989). Exotic Species Identification by the Vancouver Public Aquarium for CITES Enforcement. Presented to the Western Regional Conference of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. Proceedings pp: 350-357.
  • Cooper, E.W.T. (1988). An Evaluation of Selco for Improving the Nutritional Value of the Brine Shrimp, Artemia salina. FAMA, April 1988, p: 121.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Victoria native is an expert in fighting illegal trade of endangered species (Times Colonist newspaper, 2004)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cdn. Rep, TRAFFIC North America (WWF-Canada, 2008)
  3. ^ a b The Wild Life (Canadian Geographic Magazine, 2009)
  4. ^ a b c d Victoria native is an expert in fighting illegal trade of endangered species (Times Colonist, 2004)
  5. ^ Conservation measures needed to save tuna: experts (Vancouver Sun, 2008)
  6. ^ a b c Cdn. Rep, TRAFFIC North America: Ernie Cooper (WWF-Canada Website)
  7. ^ Endangered Species (The Current, CBC radio, 2004)
  8. ^ A Passion for Wildlife (James Alexander Burnett, 2003)
  9. ^ TRAFFIC Canada and Environment Canada WED (TRAFFIC 2009)
  10. ^ Pink or red?—experts debate corals’ future (TRAFFIC, 2009)
  11. ^ Capacitan a inspectores de PROFEPA para identificar pieles de reptil (United Kingdom Embassy in Mexico, 2009)
  12. ^ North American Regional Report to the Twenty-third meeting of the CITES Animals Committee, Geneva, (Switzerland), 19–24 April 2008 (CITES, 2008)
  13. ^ Directory of Faculty and Staff (SFU, 2012)

Further reading[edit]

  • A deadly obsession (Globe and Mail, 2001)
  • Seahorses to be protected from international trade (WWF-US, 2004)
  • BIODIVERSITY: The Insatiable in Pursuit of the Inedible (IPS, 2006)
  • Importer fined for tiger parts (Richmond News, 2009)

External links[edit]