In Southern California and Nevada twelve people have been charged with selling endangered species and other wild animals online. Dubbed Operation Cyberwild, a joint investigation was conducted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Dept. of Fish and Game. A significant role was also played by Humane Society volunteers.
The investigation focused on Internet ads places by the sellers in Southern California and Nevada. A US FWS agent in Torrance said, “We made our first undercover purchase within 24 hours of beginning the operation. We hope that this operation will send a message to individuals selling – or even considering selling – protected wildlife that we are watching and that we take these offenses seriously.” (Source: US FWS)
The defendants are accused of violating the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, or the Lacey Act, including various state wildlife laws.
Here are some of the items the defendants sold or tried to sell:
- Pair of Loggerhead sea turtle leather boots for $1,000
- $8,000 leopard skin coat (three such coats were offered on Craigslist)
- Rug made out of an endangered tiger
- A live Western Scrub-Jay for $185
- Asian arowana fish sold to an undercover agent for $2,500
- Two protected migratory birds, a Eurasian kestrel and a Black-shouldered Kite
- An elephant’s foot, a mounted hawk and a mounted owl
- A bearskin rug.
Most of the above items were advertised on the website Craig’s List.
If you suspect anyone of selling or purchasing wildlife or products made from wild animal
parts, and want to take action, you could consider reporting them anonymously to the local state department of fish and game.
Image Credit: Patrick Giraud, WikiCommons