Florida officials say several people charged in flying squirrel trafficking operation

By Christina Maxouris, CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/20/us/florida-flying-squirrel-trafficking-arrests-trnd/index.html

Updated 6:59 AM ET, Tue October 20, 2020Seven people were arrested in a flying squirrel trafficking operation. Seven people were arrested in a flying squirrel trafficking operation.

(CNN)At least seven people have been arrested and charged in an “elaborate organized enterprise” to smuggle Florida’s flying squirrels — protected wildlife in the state — and sell them, investigators announced Monday.Up to 10,000 traps were set up across the state to capture the flying squirrels and as many as 3,600 of the animals were shipped overseas within three years “to be sold as exotic pets for hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said in a news release.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners revealed, with tiger image scooping top prizeThe investigation started last year after the commission received an anonymous tip about people illegally trapping flying squirrels in one Florida county, the release said. The animals were illegally captured by poachers across several counties and sold to a dealer. The animals were then laundered through the business of the dealer, “who claimed they were captive bred,” the commission said.Officials said buyers would travel from South Korea to purchase the flying squirrels from the dealer, and the animals would then be driven to other parts of the country before being exported to Asia.Content by Trend MicroThis service keeps your computer running smoothlyThe internet really has opened up a whole new world. Literally. Anytime you open up your laptop, you have an entire globe’s worth of information at your fingertips.Investigators also learned the Florida suspects trafficked other animals as well, including protected freshwater turtles and alligators, the commission said.

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Millions of wild animals are killed or injured unintentionally each year in the US. Here’s how you can help“Wildlife conservation laws protect Florida’s precious natural resources from abuse. The concerned citizen who initially reported this activity started an investigation that uncovered a major smuggling operation,” Maj. Grant Burton, FWC Investigation’s section leader, said in a statement.“These poachers could have severely damaged Florida’s wildlife populations.”More arrests are expected, officials said.

6 thoughts on “Florida officials say several people charged in flying squirrel trafficking operation

  1. 3,600 flying squirrels designated a ‘protected species’ by the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC,) trapped & shipped to So. Korea for 3 yrs. before the FWC was awakened by a concerned person. And how do FL Fish & Game officers over-look 10,000 illegally set squirrel traps for 3 years & the poaching of ‘protected’ turtles & alligators? The Asian market for wildlife has no bounds. The last thing to expect to be poached, is flying squirrels in the states, for Asia. No species on earth is safe from humanity anymore. ‘Protected species’ are just empty words.

  2. In truth, ‘protected species’ only means F&G doesn’t have a hunting season on that animal. It’s not to assume F&G would be actively investigating as to why despite no hunting, flying squirrels were disappearing by the thousands year after year or suspect it had anything to do w/ South Korea. Just one more example of the global decline of wildlife due to even unknown human activities.

  3. No animal is safe in all of Asia. Then they want to blame a research facility in China for “accidentally” releasing Covid-19 which is designed to make China look better. Besides that, look at USDA APHIS Wildlife Service kill numbers for 2019 including all species killed 2,240,802. Main charity orgs only count mammals and forget about over 1 M birds killed.

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