Posts Tagged ‘rattlesnake’

Operation Shellshock: Look Familiar?

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Operation Shellshock is making the rounds.  From the NYT.

Reptile Smugglers Are Arrested, Authorities Say

Protestors
(New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)
In New York, 17 people were charged with 14 felonies as part of Operation Shellshock, a reptile smuggling bust by state environmental authorities.

The smugglers moved their goods across borders using secret compartments, a Maryland meat processing plant and the help of a corrupt Louisiana turtle farm. Their lucrative product: rattlesnakes, snapping turtles and salamanders.

This was the portrait of a trade in illegal reptiles and amphibians that New York State environmental authorities painted on Thursday, when the two-year undercover investigation called Operation Shellshock
ended with criminal charges against 18 people. More charges were made by American and Canadian and officials in other states, the New York officials said.  

The case had the familiar ring of a drug bust, but it was instead built in the unlikely world of herpetological shows and included charges against leaders at organizations like the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society, the Long Island Herpetological Society, and the pet Web site turtlesale.com (a Florida-based company facing New York charges)…  Read the rest of the NYT story

Here is Canada’s Press Release.

 Following is the NY State DEC Press Release:

 For Release: IMMEDIATE                                                                                                                              

BLACK MARKET ANIMAL TRADE BUSTED

DEC’s In-Depth Undercover Investigation Nets 18 Arrests
             An extensive undercover investigation into the poaching, smuggling and illegal sale of protected reptiles and amphibians by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has led to charges against 18 individuals for 14 felonies, 11 misdemeanors and dozens of violations, DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.
             The investigation, dubbed “Operation Shellshock,” uncovered a lucrative, international black market for poaching and selling native, protected New York species – turtles, rattlesnakes and salamanders – through the Internet and at herpetological shows, Commissioner Grannis said. Investigators found thousands of New York turtles being laundered through “middlemen” in other states, then getting shipped overseas for meat and other uses…  More with Photos.

Rattlesnake GRoundup

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Here is an unfortunate celebration in the NY Times of a sad practice:  The Rattlesnake Roundup.  Note that the story, “A Knack for Hooking the Longest Rattlers,” appears in the sports section.  Imagine if this were baby seal clubbing, or raptor shooting, or even a wolf hunt–you can bet the Times would have run the story with analysis of the impact of the ritual on native populations, of the potential cruelty involved, of the unnecessary commodification of wildlife.  But here, because it is snakes, the hunters are the voice of whether this is a fair practice and the Jaycees are the reporter’s source for what the snake population can sustain.

“The population I don’t think is in any danger,” Sawyers [of the Jaycees] said. “Some people do use gas fumes to draw them out of the hole. In Texas law, there’s nothing on the books right now that says you can’t, so it’s up to each individual hunter.”

Gassing for snakes is a reviled practice.  Florida has outlawed gassing not only because it kills everything else around and damages soil and water, but also because it causes nervous disorders in the snakes.  Shame on the Times for running this story as a sporting event, shame on Sweetwater, Texas for celebrating the killing of wildlife without any apparent research as to the rattlesnakes’ threat to humans, cattle, or research on the snakes’ sustainability. And, of course, taking the kids out to a rattlesnake killing is just what we need to engender respect for wildlife.  Texas has some of the world’s most knowledgeable snake lovers.  It is a shame it also has so many haters.