Nov 9, 2023
From tigers to turtles, monkeys to myna birds, thousands of animals are smuggled into the US each year. It happens as part of an exotic pet trade that's against the law. The creatures are often treated cruelly on their journey. They may spread disease. They can also escape and multiply as an invasive species. That’s why the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) arrests smugglers and seizes the animals. But what happens to the creatures from there? A new program aims to answer that question.
The FWS has partnered with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). They have launched the Wildlife Confiscations Network (WCN). This program seeks to find homes for exotic creatures. The goal is to avoid having to euthanize them or harm them more with a return trip overseas. The WCN will aid the rehoming process. Perhaps it'll even allow the species to thrive.
Jake Owens is a director at the Los Angeles Zoo. He told Reuters that the hope is to restore animals to a good health, promote breeding, and get "really nice healthy populations in zoos and aquariums."
Between 2015 and 2019, the FWS took in nearly 50,000 trafficked creatures. By making the process to shelter those animals simpler, they aim to devote more resources to dealing with the species at the root of the problem: humans.
"We need to make sure that ... the people who are taking them from the wild in the first place, aren't going to take that (creature) again," Owens said.
Reflect: Why is it important to find humane and sustainable solutions for animals confiscated from illegal wildlife trafficking, and what challenges might arise in achieving this goal?
In this game, students learn what an invasive species is and how they impact the ecosystems they invade.
Endangered Species Critical Habitats
This interactive map shows 859 sites that contain at least 95% of an endangered species population and are identified as key biodiversity areas.
Endangered Species Act
This article details the history and impacts of the Endangered Species Act, which protects the habitat of species in the United States that are near extinction.