Customs looking into online sales of parts of endangered animals
Fishing tackle shops are suspected of offences; feathers of rare parrots and polar bear hair have been sold for the purpose of tying fly-fishing lures, Customs claim
The Finnish Customs suspect that a sizable amount of parts of endangered animals have ended up on sale in Finnish online stores and fishing tackle shops.
The Customs announced on Tuesday that they are looking into a tangle of criminal activities related to endangered animals.
The case under investigation relates to the illegal sale of animal parts, such as hair and feathers, for example through online stores, for the purpose of tying fly-fishing lures.
The Customs have looked into the goings-on with stores selling fly-fishing equipment from Helsinki to Rovaniemi.
In the making of fly-fishing lures, parts of endangered animals, such as the grey junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii), the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), the brown bear (Ursus arctos), plus various endangered parrots and pheasants, are often used.
The Customs suspect that responsible persons in Finnish tackle shops have ordered these items primarily from India and placed them for sale without permission.
“For example, we have found necks of a few hundred grey junglefowls. When it comes to parts of other animals, it is difficult to give exact figures, as, for example, the skins have been cut into little pieces”, says the head of the investigation Seppo Mäkitalo from the Customs.
According to the Customs, many fly-fishers have also unknowingly committed a nature conservation offence when purchasing lure paraphernalia over the Internet or from tackle shops.
According to Mäkitalo, however, in the case currently under investigation those who have bought such equipment will escape any possible prosecution, because for an occasional buyer it is impossible to know if the seller is in possession of all the relevant permits.
The case has been looked into as a nature conservation offence, which is punishable by fines or imprisonment for up to two years.
With regard to five specific incidents, the case is on its way to the consideration-of-charges phase with the Ostrobothnia Prosecutor’s Office.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Endangered species of plants and animals illegally imported as souvenirs from far-off countries (27.1.2009)