The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently concluded a joint operation with partner agencies designed to protect the environment, lawful businesses and public safety.
During the four-day "Operation Wild Web" operation, officers and investigators used the Internet to find those intentionally selling fish and wildlife illegally, as well as committing other crimes.
Cases involved the unlawful sale of pythons, bearded dragons and many other reptiles; freshwater and saltwater fish; native migratory birds and many exotic birds; as well as businesses operating without licenses and the illegal sales of vessels.
"Licensed facilities and legal business can be checked to ensure animals are handled safely and humanely," said FWC Capt. Rett Boyd, who supervised the operation. "But unlicensed facilities go without inspections for safety and cleanliness. And without a record of where they got their animals, these facilities could potentially spread dangerous diseases through their transactions, without any way to track the source of the problem."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources also participated, addressing issues in their own states or subject matter areas.
"We designed this operation to more efficiently protect our resources," Boyd said. "Some people may think operating online is a way to get away with taking advantage of protected species, but we are dedicated to working with our partners to stop that."
Written arrests (notices to appear) and warnings were issued in 24 counties from Polk to Escambia. Most were second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail.
Remember - If you see or suspect a fish, wildlife or boating law violation, report it to the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline. Call 888-404-3922, text Tip@MyFWC.com, or visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert.
-Information from: www.thefishingwire.com