Wildlife Smuggling and the impact on the pet trade.

SludgeMunkey

New member
Joined
Nov 11, 2008
Messages
2,299
Reaction score
74
Points
0
Location
Bellevue, Nebraska
Country
United States
Display Name
Johnny O. Farnen
Given the recent conversation thread here a Caudata.org on N. kaiseri and CITES Appendix I, I noticed the "axolotl" defense came up once again. Many of us have seen this here (and elsewhere) before.

Simply- If Ambystoma mexicanum is a CITES Appendix I listed species, why is there such a huge trade in them world-wide in the pet industry? We have all heard theories and read reasonings, but I myself have never been able to find anything on exactly why. (I use the tiger hybrid theory myself;))

Then this month's issue of National geographic showed up in my post box. There is a large article on the wildlife smuggling trade in southeast Asia that touches on just this subject.

They refer to it as a loophole. Perhaps it is more of an exploit. Either way captive bred axolotls and other CITES listed caudates are traded freely as they are not wildlife. According to the article CITES regulation does not apply to them.

Of course, we all know that many, many, many species are passed as captive bred and are in fact wild caught and this too is covered in the article.

What are your thoughts on this?
 

JM29

Active member
Joined
Nov 16, 2009
Messages
285
Reaction score
30
Points
28
Location
Brittany
Country
France
My first thought may be a detail : Ambystoma mexicanum is CITES appendix I or II ? I thought it still was II.

My second thought : one can't know for sure the animals are captive-bred unless they come directly from the breeder.
 

pete

New member
Joined
May 7, 2007
Messages
550
Reaction score
28
Points
0
Location
CA
Country
United States
Display Name
Pete
Interesting read. Thanks.
 

michael

2010 Research Grant Donor
Joined
Apr 12, 2003
Messages
3,318
Reaction score
92
Points
48
Location
Ephrata,Pa
Country
United States
Display Name
Michael Shrom
My understanding is that axolotls are still CITESII not CITESI. Within the U.S. CITESII animals can be kept and sold freely. Most often CITESI animals need special permits to be kept or sold in the U.S. CITES II animals can be imported and exported easily with fish and wildlife permits and CITES permits. Axolotls are rarely smuggled in or out of the country due to the fact that they are relatively inexpensive.

I don't think captive keeping of axolotls is seen as a threat to wild populations of axolotls. CITES II listing requires more permits than non CITES animals to import and export animals as far as the U.S. is concerned. CITES I listing makes it very difficult to import, export, or keep animals with that listing in the U.S. Special permits are usually required to keep or sell CITESI animals in the U.S

To boil it down if it is CITES II a hobbyist in the U.S. can keep, breed, and sell it in country as long as founding stock was legally imported. If it is CITESI special permits are usually needed to keep, breed, and sell in the U.S. Permits for CITESI animals are not normally easily to get and permits might be refused.
 

abronia

New member
Joined
Sep 28, 2007
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Hamburg, Germany
Country
Germany
To find a WC Axolotl is like hitting the lottery jackpot and hosting the superbowl and getting a breeding pair of Andrias as a present all together, for in the wild Ambystoma mexicanum is nearly extinct: on Laguna Xochimilco grows one of Mexico City's barrios.
Since the 50ies Axolotl are bread as laboratory animals for their easy maintenance and belong with mice, rats, clawed frogs, and zebra fish, to the usual lab menagerie. Just to explain their availability.
And no one suspects all those designer snakes (boas and pythons all are CITESII!) to be WC. The CITES-listing doesn't prevent from going domestic......

greetings from Hamburg

Sven Vogler
 

pete

New member
Joined
May 7, 2007
Messages
550
Reaction score
28
Points
0
Location
CA
Country
United States
Display Name
Pete
I just saw this story on SFGate, thought it was interesting and recalled this old thread. It mentions the National Geographic article initially posted. So it's just an FYI/update for those that are curious.

Reptile case keeps crawling along

The wheels of justice grind slowly. Just ask a reptile dealer named Beau Lee Lewis and the prosecutors who have been trying for most of his adult life to convict him of smuggling.

Lewis was an 18-year-old running a wildlife import-export business from his home in Buckeye, Ariz., in 1995 when he answered an ad in "Reptiles" magazine seeking buyers for animals from abroad. Prosecutors say the ad was actually placed by a government agent who was cooking up a plan to lure Anson Wong, a Malaysian reptile dealer, to the United States to face smuggling charges.

Lewis' purchases were legal at first, but prosecutors said he eventually asked the agent about importing some rare lizards and other reptiles protected by federal law. Soon, according to prosecutors, Lewis was buying reptiles illegally from Wong, under the agent's watchful eye. He was indicted in 1998 on charges of smuggling 125 reptiles -- lizards, tortoises, pythons, and a crocodile-like creature called a false gavial -- many of which died in transit, prosecutors said.

Wong, meanwhile, was coaxed into meeting with the agent in Mexico, spent two years fighting extradition to the United States, then pleaded guilty, was sentenced to six years in prison, and cooperated in the prosecution of Lewis.

Tried along with other smuggling defendants in Oakland, where the reptiles were brought into the country, Lewis was convicted of 17 felony charges in 2001 and sentenced to three years in prison. But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2003 that the government had violated his right to a speedy trial by delaying the proceedings for nearly four months to arrange testimony by the original government agent.

The court didn't decide, however, whether the violation was so serious that the charges should be dismissed permanently. A federal judge allowed a new indictment, and Lewis was convicted again in 2005, this time on six felonies, and sentenced to 23 months in prison. Then in 2008, the appeals court said the judge, who by then had left the federal bench, had used the wrong standard in evaluating Lewis' right to a speedy trial, and referred the issue to a new judge. The case then wound its way back to the appeals court, which finally ruled on Tuesday that the second trial in 2005 was legal because the charges were serious, the government had acted in good faith, and the four-month delay didn't significantly harm Lewis.

Lewis' appeals aren't over, however, and he still hasn't spent a day in prison. Still awaiting argument before another panel of the appeals court is a claim that the original judge gave faulty instructions to the jury on the core of Lewis' defense -- that the agent entrapped him into smuggling reptiles.

Anson Wong, meanwhile, has finished his prison sentence and returned to Malaysia. According to a National Geographic magazine article in January, he's running a zoo where he plans to keep tigers.


Read more: Crime Scene : Reptile case keeps crawling along
 

waterlynx

New member
Joined
May 10, 2011
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Country
Canada
Anson Wong. I hate animal smugglers.
I think according to a 2010 "Traffic" publication, Anson Wong is back in jail in Malaysia regarding
smuggling related wildlife laws.
 

michael

2010 Research Grant Donor
Joined
Apr 12, 2003
Messages
3,318
Reaction score
92
Points
48
Location
Ephrata,Pa
Country
United States
Display Name
Michael Shrom
Axolotls are rarely smuggled in or out of the country due to the fact that they are relatively inexpensive.

.

Evidently this is not correct. I've been contacted by a couple U.S. zoos about how to best care for Ambystoma mexicanum and Ambystoma andersoni that were confiscated by USFW from illegal shipments.
 

Willlis

New member
Joined
Dec 3, 2007
Messages
108
Reaction score
6
Points
0
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
Country
United States
Display Name
Keith
I was under the impression that CITIES II species were still illegal to ship across international borders as far as US law is concerned. I wonder if that is the source of the USFW animals more so than actually being wild caught?
 

FrogEyes

Active member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
908
Reaction score
38
Points
28
Location
Southern Minnesota
Country
Canada
CITES 2 animals need CITES 2 export permits. It's quite likely that confiscations are CB animals for which someone tried to save money and hassle, or simply did no paperwork out of ignorance. In many cases, I'd bet on axolotls in tropical fish shipments going unnoticed, especially if scientific names were less than accurate.
 

peter5930

New member
Joined
Oct 15, 2010
Messages
184
Reaction score
17
Points
0
Location
Glasgow
Country
Scotland
This is what it costs to export CB Axolotls from the US the legal way:

Export Axolotl Buy Ambystoma mexicanum Salamander For Sale

[FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]On May 10, 2010 Buy-Axolotls.com received a License to Import and Export Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) from the United States Federal Fish and Wildlife Services. Because Axolotls are on the Endangered Species List we can export Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) to other countries by using a CITES permit. The cost of the CITES permit is $100; the cost of the CITES Airport Inspection Fee is $240; add the cost of Air Shipping (via Air Cargo next Day Air cost is about $200 - $300) and then add cost of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) to get your final total for delivery.[/FONT]
Confiscations of axolotls are vastly more likely to be from people who're trying to avoid the not insignificant expenses associated with doing it legally, than from people who're trading in WC specimens.

I was reading about the international orchid trade recently, and it was quite informative; sort of a look into what the amphibian trade would be like if more species were protected by CITES and it was a multi-billion dollar industry (I'm not sure how large the amphibian trade is, but there's serious money in the orchid trade).

This is well worth reading: www.msmbb.org.my/apjmbb/html181/181ap.pdf
 

peter5930

New member
Joined
Oct 15, 2010
Messages
184
Reaction score
17
Points
0
Location
Glasgow
Country
Scotland
CITES 2 animals need CITES 2 export permits. It's quite likely that confiscations are CB animals for which someone tried to save money and hassle, or simply did no paperwork out of ignorance. In many cases, I'd bet on axolotls in tropical fish shipments going unnoticed, especially if scientific names were less than accurate.

Any live animals that are commercially imported into the UK have to undergo a veterinary inspection (I think it's the same for most countries), and I don't think many vets would mistake an axolotl for a fish. It would be easy to slip some T. cristatus labelled as T. carnifex through a veterinary inspection, but axolotls are pretty distinctive and well known. Your best bet would probably be to label them as larval tiger salamanders. Amphibians don't get the same level of inspection as rabies-carrying species, but they do get a cursory check by a vet to confirm their identity and well-being. Amphibians that are imported into the UK as pets don't need a veterinary inspection, but you're only allowed to bring in a maximum of 5 at a time as pets; more than that and it counts as a commercial import (although I strongly suspect that this is widely ignored, even by customs).
 

taherman

Caudata.org Donor
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
381
Reaction score
23
Points
18
Location
Whitehouse, OH
Country
United States
Amphibians crossing the U.S. border do not currently require a veterinary inspection. The costs posted by peter5930 are fairly accurate, and can even go higher depending on the details of the shipment. Most of the dedrobatidae is listed as CITES Appendix II and also incur these expenses.
 

peter5930

New member
Joined
Oct 15, 2010
Messages
184
Reaction score
17
Points
0
Location
Glasgow
Country
Scotland
Amphibians crossing the U.S. border do not currently require a veterinary inspection. The costs posted by peter5930 are fairly accurate, and can even go higher depending on the details of the shipment. Most of the dedrobatidae is listed as CITES Appendix II and also incur these expenses.

I just did some checking, and it looks like there are requirements that vary from state to state, though I'm not clear on exactly how it works (you Americans and your crazy country).

It seems that Utah requires a certificate of veterinary inspection for imported amphibians.

http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/pub_regs_livestock.shtml said:
UT Admin Code R657-53. Amphibian and Reptile Collection, Importation, Transportation and Possession. May 1, 2012

(5) "Certificate of veterinary inspection" means an official health authorization issued by an accredited veterinarian required for the importation of an amphibian or reptile, as provided in Rule R58-1.

Oregon might require one for amphibians, but the text isn't very clear and there's some ambiguity. Does "no other requirements" mean "no requirements other than a certificate of veterinary inspection", or does it mean "reptiles, amphibians and fish that aren't turtles, crocodiles or alligators have no requirements"?

General import requirements
Oregon requires a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI, i.e., "health certificate") issued less than 30 days before entry and an import permit for most animals including birds.

Dogs, cats, and most pet birds are exempt from the import permit requirement. However, pet birds imported for commercial sale must have a CVI and an import permit.

Tests or vaccinations may also be required. If testing is required, the CVI must include official ID for each animal tested, lab name and location, date sample was taken, accession number, and test results. Tests with results pending are not acceptable.

Exhibition animals

Livestock brought into the state of Oregon for shows, fairs, and competitions must meet regular requirements as a minimum. Call 503-986-4680 for details.

Family pets
Cats and dogs
Cats and dogs four months or older must have current rabies vaccination.

Pet birds (psittacines, raptors, etc.)
See "birds" section below. Pet poultry must meet poultry requirements.

Reptiles, amphibians, and fish
Turtles imported for sale must be at least four inches across the carapace. Importing crocodiles and alligators is restricted. Please call ODA for further details. ODA has no other requirements for importation of reptiles, amphibians, or fish. Check with local and county government agencies and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (503-872-5260) for their requirements for importing or holding these animals.​
Wisconsin also seems to require a certificate of veterinary inspection:

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection

Importing Exotic Pets

An "exotic pet" is any companion animal other than a dog, domestic housecat, ferret, pet bird, rabbit, or domestic rodent (gerbil, guinea pig, hamster, or domestic mouse or rat).
Required:

Certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) with physical destination address
Official individual ID
Import permit number

Not required:

Testing or vaccinations for most exotic pet species, such as monkeys, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, reptiles, amphibians, etc.
 

FrogEyes

Active member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
908
Reaction score
38
Points
28
Location
Southern Minnesota
Country
Canada
Many such "requirements" were not intended for pets in general, nor herps in particular. Such requirements are also generally not enforced, except where the animals concerned may be carriers of known serious pathogens [ie, ungulates, canines, felines, mustelids, birds, sometimes turtles by faulty logic].

I would read the Oregon law exactly as it is written, in the context it is written: there are no requirements or limitations on the import of [those] herptiles [which are legal to possess and sell in Oregon].

The bottom line is, in the USA and Canada, there are no inter-state or inter-province checkpoints or border crossings, and no system to account for what moves across those boundaries. In Canada there is also no accounting for species or numbers of exotics entering or leaving the country for personal use, unless they are CITES species or turtles. Each jurisdiction has its own possession and commerce laws, but the onus is on you to know and adhere to those laws and not do anything which advertises you are not. As far as I know, neither country has restrictions on movement of CITES animals between states and provinces. However, where CITES 1 animals are involved, I expect there are restrictions in both countries. CITES is federal law though, not state.
 

michael

2010 Research Grant Donor
Joined
Apr 12, 2003
Messages
3,318
Reaction score
92
Points
48
Location
Ephrata,Pa
Country
United States
Display Name
Michael Shrom
One of the zoos that contacted me said the ones they were talking about were from a USFW confiscation. I don't think USFW would have any jurisdiction over a violation of California law. It does seem like their is a bit of subterfuge going on with different types of axolotl importation, A. andersoni importation, and animals that are not identified properly.

I do know of at least 1 confiscation of an axolotl in New Jersey by New Jersey officials some time ago.
 

michael

2010 Research Grant Donor
Joined
Apr 12, 2003
Messages
3,318
Reaction score
92
Points
48
Location
Ephrata,Pa
Country
United States
Display Name
Michael Shrom
I was talking about more than one confiscation. Jay is probably correct about one of them.
 

Pop Alexandra

New member
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
Points
3
Location
Cluj
Country
Romania
I was under the impression that CITIES II species were still illegal to ship across international borders as far as US law is concerned. I wonder if that is the source of the USFW animals more so than actually being wild caught?
They are, but a lot of the shipping is done by bribing customs agents, unfortunately.
______________________________________________
Alexandra from W2C
 
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
    Chat Bot: Maeve has left the room. +1
    Top