USA goes nuts over flying squirrel thieves

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 22, 2020

The authorities said that he Florida wildlife dealer illegally netted over $213,000.

The investigation, which also involved the Illinois Conservation Police, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Homeland Security Investigations, found that the seven people charged were also involved in the illegal dealing of other animals, including protected freshwater turtles and alligators, according to the FWC.

The commission said it received a complaint from a citizen in January 2019 about flying squirrels being illegally trapped in a rural area.

More than 10,000 squirrel traps were deployed to catch as many as 3,600 flying squirrels in less than three years, said a report by The Hill, noting the total estimated cost after global sales is upwards of a million dollars.

The squirrels were captured by poachers throughout Florida, sold to a wildlife dealer in Bushnell then laundered through the business's license who claimed they were captive-bred, not wildlife, and sold overseas.

According to the FWC, the flying squirrels, which were collected over the course of less than three years, have an global value of more than $1 million. The squirrels were then driven by rental vehicle to Chicago, where they were exported to Asia by an "unwitting" global wildlife exporter, officials said. Six of the suspects have been arrested and a seventh remains a fugitive.

Buyers from South Korea traveled to the United States and bought the squirrels from the wildlife dealer in Bushnell, according to the press release.

Flying squirrels are protected in the state of Florida.

As the operation grew, couriers from the state of Georgia would take over the transports, officials said.

The poachers would then deliver the animals to Chicago via rental vehicle, and an unwitting wildlife exporter would be duped into sending the squirrels to their global destinations. A second hired courier would then drive the animals to Chicago. Documents for the sale of those animals were falsified, concealing the true source of the wildlife, according to the FWC.

Those participants would not disclose the identity of any other suspects.

FWC investigators discovered the major smuggling operation where poachers captured almost 4,000 flying squirrels and made around $213,800. Grant Burton, who leads the FWC's investigation section. "These poachers could have severely damaged Florida's wildlife populations".

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE