FWC cracking down on illegal sales of wildlife

Dave Culbreth

Photo: Video by fox4now.com

FWC cracking down on illegal sales of wildlife

CREATED Oct. 2, 2013

Fort Myers, Fla. -

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is cracking down on people who catch fish, lobster, snakes, birds, etc. and then sell them. In Florida, if you do just about anything outdoors you've got to have a license to do it. So, if you've ever thought about catching "something" and then turning around and selling it the FWC has this message for you.

These lobsters are just an example of what people have caught and then, believe it or not, tried to sell on places like Craigslist. "Sometimes they'll either have caught extra when they're out fishing or they'll do it for the purpose of selling," says FWC Spokeswoman Katie Purcell.

When asked if buyers shouldn't see the red flags she said, "I guess you would think that people would be a little more cautious about the types of products they're buying that they're going to consume."

She says the F.W.C. targeted people selling these on the internet in a sting operation last month called "Operation Wild Web" which caught people selling protected wildlife like fish, lobsters, snakes, birds and reptiles such as a Ft. Myers man who was caught selling a bearded dragon lizard. The obvious answer to why people would do this is money. But why are these animals which are sold in pet stores even protected by the FWC?

"Some of them are protected because their either potentially dangerous to humans such as different venomous reptiles or other animals that people like to have as pets," explained Purcell.

She says in addition, all this could be a problem to the animals themselves. "It could be damaging to the reptiles," Purcell added. "It could be not handled properly or to a person if they're not really handling it the right way."

She says no one's going to jail except perhaps the one man from Lee County who sold non-venomous snakes. That is a second degree misdemeanor which carries a penalty of up to two months in jail.