Smuggler of Monitor Lizards Sentenced

LA Lizard Smuggler Gets Taste Of His Own Medicine A judge ordered a man convicted of smuggling monitor lizards in boxes to serve house confinement for his animal cruelty.
By SoCal Patch, News Partner | Mar 29, 2018 4:31 pm ET LA Lizard Smuggler Gets Taste Of His Own Medicine

LOS ANGELES, CA — An Inglewood man was sentenced Thursday to six months under house arrest for smuggling five monitor lizards into the United States — two of which died while they were being shipped.
Gayle Simpson, 34, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Manuel Real to serve three years of federal probation. Simpson pleaded guilty in September to a single federal count of smuggling monitor lizards that were shipped from the Philippines.

“We hope this sentence sends the message that these actions have consequences,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Silber said, adding that the case was one of three involving monitor lizards prosecuted by his office since last winter.

The case against Simpson stems from a package intercepted by U.S.
Customs and Border Protection last spring. The package, which was labeled “speakers” and was addressed to Simpson’s son, contained five monitor lizards: three spiny-necked water monitor lizards, one Samar water monitor lizard, and one Palawan water monitor lizard, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Two of the monitor lizards arrived dead, and a third had suffered a crushed foot. All five are protected under CITES, an international agreement which aims to ensure that international trade in wild animal and plant specimens does not threaten their survival.

A subsequent search warrant executed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Simpson’s home resulted in the seizure of four yellow-headed water monitor lizards and two spiny-necked water monitor lizards, prosecutors said.
Silber said the death and injury suffered by the reptiles during shipping illustrates the cruelty of animal smuggling, for which profit is the usual motive. The monitor lizards in the Simpson case were worth an estimated $1,500 to $2,000, authorities said.

Forest rangers tortured and killed by illegal settlers in Liberia rainforest

Two forest patrollers have been killed and four hospitalised in what is believed to be retaliatory action from illegal settlers in Sapo National Park

 A man walks past a rack of bushmeat that includes the increasingly rare pangolin, now on the point of extinction.
A man walks past a rack of bushmeat that includes the increasingly rare pangolin, now on the point of extinction. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Two forest rangers have been killed by a violent mob in a Liberian rainforest after discovering a community illegally settling and hunting in the park, according to authorities.

“They ambushed them using single-barrel shot guns,” Darlington Tuagben, managing director of Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority told the Liberian Observer. One of the rangers died at the scene, while the other died in hospital a day after the attack. The ranger “was beaten and tortured to death”, said Tuagben. Four other rangers were hospitalised.

“This kind of behaviour is no longer in any civilised world including Liberia. It is barbaric and unacceptable,” said Tuagben.

The attack took place just one month after a ranger was tortured by other illegal settlers in the forest.

Sapo National Park is home to a variety of endangered species, including elephants, pangolins, pygmy hippos and western chimpanzees. It is one of west Africa’s most intact forest ecosystems.

The park was pillaged by poachers, loggers and miners during the Liberian civil war from 1990 to 2003, and the government and the United Nations have since implemented major resettlement programmes and PR campaigns to raise support for conservation. Farming, logging, construction, hunting, and human settlement have been illegal since 2003.

Despite conservation efforts by the government and NGOs, illicit activities inside the park have soared in the last decade. More than 1,000 people occupy Sapo illegally, according to Tuagben, who told the Liberian Observer that people remain hostile to park authorities and those trying to protect it. He said he has requested that the police deploy armed men to work alongside forest rangers.

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Long-awaited pigeon shoot ban set for Senate vote

Amid the frenzy of hefty budget bills moving in the Pennsylvania legislature comes a long awaited piece of legislation aimed at protecting the small feathered creatures.


Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson

The bill – set to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning – would make it illegal to shoot live pigeons launched from spring-loaded boxes, ending a practice animal welfare advocates call barbaric, but the National Rifle Association and those who participate in in it call a “shooting sport tradition.”

The bill has never made to a full floor vote in either chamber despite more than 20 years of effort. This time though the Senate Majority leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) has signed on as a cosponsor of the bill.

The language from a House bill sponsored by Rep. John Maher (R., Allegheny) is set to be amended to a bill (HB1750) banning the consumption of dogs and cats.

The furor over pigeon shoots dates back three decades to the mass protests over the Hegins pigeon shoot, the weekend-long bacchanal in Schuylkill County where thousands of birds were slaughtered.The carnage drew national attention and lawsuits and the club ended the shoots at Hegins.

 Dueling action alerts were send to members of the NRA and the Humane Society of the United States. The NRA said it is fighting to protect  has launched a fight to preserve what it calls a “shooting sport tradition” while the HSUS urged its members to call their Senators and ask them to support the bill.

The NRA says “outside animal rights extremists” are to blame for the controversy but the HSUS points to its tens of thousands of supporters on Facebook who want the practice banned in the handful of clubs – including the Philadelphia Gun Club – that still host pigeon shoots.

Animal welfare advocates say hundreds of wounded birds suffer slow deaths because they are not humanely destroyed.

At a “tower”: shoot at Wing Pointe Resort in Berks County – where birds are stuffed in a box and flushed out while hunters stand in a circle and shoot them – I witnessed wounded birds unlucky enough to survive within range of the young “trapper boys” being corralled, thrown to the ground and stomped on.

Attempts to bring cruelty charges against gun clubs have failed as local judges have ruled the shoots are legal until they outlawed by the legislature.

The NRA is waging a counter attack in the House where it is backing a bill by Rep. Mark Keller (R., Perry) that would legislate their legality by placing them under the regulation of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The game commission has said it does not consider the activity to constitute a “fair chase.”