RALEIGH, N.C. (June 24, 2014) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has concluded a joint operation with partner agencies to use the Internet to protect wildlife, wildlife habitat, lawful businesses and public safety.
During the four-day “Operation Wild Web” detail, 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 reptiles, freshwater and saltwater fish, native migratory birds and many exotic birds; businesses operating without licenses; and illegal sales of vessels.
“Licensed facilities and legal business can be checked to ensure animals are handled safely and humanely,” said Capt. Rett Boyd, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 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.”
In addition to the Wildlife Commissions from North Carolina and Florida, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources participated in Operation Wild Web, addressing issues in their jurisdictions.
“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.”
The Wildlife Commission’s Special Investigations Unit made five arrests for illegal activities, largely involving illegal reptile and amphibian sales. North Carolina wildlife officers also assisted 30 individuals either to gain compliance for legal transactions or avoid criminal activity. Most charges were second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail. An undisclosed number of cases remain under investigation, officers said.
The public can report wildlife violations in North Carolina anytime by calling 1-800-662-7137. Callers can remain anonymous.