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.
Filed under: animal advocacy, animal ethics, animal law | Tagged: animal abuse, animal advocacy, animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal law, animal smuggling, animal suffering, animal welfare, animals, endangered animals, environmental ethics, environmental law, exotic animals, Lacey Act |