A Vancouver man has been charged with attempting to smuggle bear paws to China.

The man, 39, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport at 2 a.m. PT Sunday.

Airport customs control staff found several dismembered bear parts in his carry-on luggage, a B.C. Conservation officer said.

Sgt. Dave Jevons said the paws were discovered as a suitcase passed through an X-ray machine.

"We see it occasionally," he said. "Like any illegal trade, what we see is only a portion of what is actually occuring so it is really difficult to ascertain the actual scope of this type of activity."

It is illegal to import, export or trade bear parts in Canada.

The man will appear in court in October.


With files from the CBC's Emily Elias