Los Angeles

Wildlife Trophies Seized by US Customs Agents

Some of the animal trophies were endangered and protected by international law.

A menagerie of confiscated wildlife game trophies headed overseas from the Port of Los Angeles were shown Wednesday before being distributed to schools, zoos and university collections.

When U.S. Customs agents opened a shipping container headed for the Philippines on July 23, they were greeted by a whole host of creatures, including a mounted baboon, bobcat and African antelope head.

"This is the closest I've ever been to these wild animals besides being at the zoo," U.S. Customs and Border Protection Section Chief Javier Larios said while laughing.

Customs officials then contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who took control of the haul, which is worth thousands.

All of the animals lacked the proper export permits and some, including the baboon, are protected by international law, said Mike Osborn, a wildlife inspector with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Once the trophies are forfeited to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our number one goal to educate people about protected species, endangered species and wildlife," Osborn said.

Larios said this specific violation came about through a lack of education.

A tourist traveling around the United States on vacation bought the animals as souvenirs and tried shipping the group back home, unaware of the permits necessary to legally export his purchases, Larios said.

While this case resulted in no charges being filed, Osborn said legal ramifications differ depending on the situation and others have received jail time for trying to ship wildlife internationally.

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