Endangered Species Sold Online

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


Related Links

More Animal Extinctions Might be Possible
Fox Could be on Endangered List


Maxine S.
Maxine Sheehan4 years ago

Is this still going on? I read about it and signed a petition months ago. Very sad that a leading country has to show how cruel it can be. But then what can one expect from a country that doesn't impeach a president for lying under oath?

Carol Harnwell
Carol Harnwell4 years ago

Shocking, but sure that there are more out there..

Lynn Demsky
Lynn D4 years ago

So very sad and this should NOT be happening - shame on the web sites and double shame for anyone buying them! Just WRONG!!!

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

I'm angry with these websites. Where are the online regulations??? Just awful. Glad they caught these fleas but what about the others that go unnoticed??? thanks.

Lydia Weissmuller Price

The boots and coats are not something most people could make home-made. Why stop at the sellers? Please trace these items to the sources...get the manufacturer and the poacher, too.

Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege5 years ago

I'm glad they've been caught. The trouble other smugglers may follow.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago


Melania Padilla
Melania P5 years ago

This is so wrong!!

Lucille P.
Lucille P5 years ago

this is awful

Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies5 years ago

Bad news bad people doing bad things