In a drive to ensure wildlife caught up in the trade can survive and thrive, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has partnered with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to launch last week a pilot Wildlife Confiscations Network in Southern California.
Southern California is considered an epicenter for trafficked wildlife, much of it from Asian countries. Monkeys, tigers, exotic birds for the pet trade and trophies, reptiles and sea cucumbers for food and medicinal purposes.
Criminal networks and syndicates have built illegal wildlife trade into a multi-billion dollar a year criminal enterprise, Ashe said. Between 2015 and 2019, the FWS had to find care and homes for nearly 50,000 trafficked animals linked to more than 800 criminal referrals. headtopics.com
Speed is of essence when live specimens are refused clearance at ports or airports and seized or abandoned, requiring urgent care from experts to survive. Some, like the Bali myna, are critically endangered species under the international CITES treaty with fewer than 100 of the white songbirds with the distinctive blue eye markings in the wild.
In a giant warehouse at LAX, FWS inspectors and sniffer canine Braxton go through shipments of live tropical fish and coral headed to the aquarium industry, looking for anything that might not be legal. headtopics.com
Back at the FWS Office of Law Enforcement, a room holds taxidermied trafficked animals and birds, horns and ivory.