The Donation Loophole in the Lacey Act – A Win for Animal Smugglers?

Jacqueline McMahon

In the United States, animal smuggling is a $10 billion industry.  Worldwide, animal smuggling is seen by participants as a “low risk, high profit” business because of the limited breadth of domestic legislation, undermanned agencies, and lax penalties.  The U.S. Lacey Act, one of the key pieces of legislation designed at targeting animal smuggling, prohibits the sale of exotic animals or their body parts for profit.  While the language may seem like outright prohibition on smuggling, animal smugglers are finding loopholes in the Act to continue the trade.     

For example, donating live endangered animals is not covered by the Lacey Act.  So, if you’ve been looking for a way to get rid of that beautiful, majestic tiger, “donate” it.  This was the method taken by two Missouri natives, Todd and Vicki Lantz, who picked up four adult tigers from a Wildlife Ranch to slaughter and distribute.  The Lantzs allegedly accepted $4000 for the tigers, but falsified a federal form to inform authorities that the exotic cats had been donated in hopes of escaping prosecution.  The Lacey Act exception for donations of these animals doesn’t deter smuggling, but only motivates smugglers to be more creative in hiding their profits.  While the Lantzs donation scheme didn’t escape prosecution this time, one has to wonder how many more “charitable” smugglers there are out there.




7 Responses

  1. I can’t get over that photo! Seeing such a precious life treated as a mere “thing”… And all under the guise of a “good deed”. It’s so terribly wrong! Apparently there is a huge hole in the protections meant to be there for “exotic” animals. I hope every animal attorney gets their teeth sunk in on this one!

  2. This photo looks like the live cub is a stuffed tiger–who is stuffed into a child’s suitcase.

    It makes me wonder why we give children stuffed animals, which are made to replicate the real “thing.”

    After cosseting and carrying around “their” tigers, the next step in the progression toward domination of other species is a request to go to the zoo to see the “real” tigers. That supposedly educational experience, in which they children are brainwashed to believe that their paid visit is actually helping conserve tigers in the wild, does just the opposite of causing the child truly “feel” for the animals. He concludes that it is right for man to capture tigers and put them behind bars for us to gawk at. What lovely lessons in justice and humanity.

    Maybe I drifted off-topic. But it seems to be related: it’s all speciesism, and it has the effect of demoralizing rather than ennobling mankind.

  3. So, How do we close that loophole? Lets do it NOW!

  4. My first thought at seeing this photo was that it was photo-shopped or a set-up (guess I was hoping), but not so. A woman from Thailand was attempting to smuggle the cub into Iran.

    Ironically, the earliest Lacey Act (1894–before the Nat’l Park Svc was formed) was created to protect Yellowstone’s wildlife and natural features from poaching and vandalism, yet today national park personnel themselves, along with the state of Montana, persecute wild bison both inside and outside the park, sending many to slaughter. I guess where there’s a political and/or greed-driven will, there’s a way around the law.

  5. that picture ruined my day and made me so sad i had to get off the computer poor little cub what a sin

  6. i agree with sandra and bea

  7. these two are despicable. I can’t write what should be done to them. I only hope the world will stop tolerating such cruelty.

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