Fighting Wildlife Crime in the Pacific Northwest 

Wildlife Trafficing may be a subject many are not aware of or find too painful to integrate into their daily lives. As awful as the practice is there are great organizations doing all they can to educate the public on how to curtail these crimes.
Some of the following is attributed to the Woodland Park Zoo magazine, The Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficing Online and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“The Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, organized by Google and the World Wildlife Fund, was announced on 7 March 2018. It includes companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, Baixing, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Huaxia Collection, Instagram, Kuaishou, Mall for Africa, Microsoft, Pinterest, Qyer, Ruby Lane, Shengshi Collection, Tencent, Wen Wan Tian Xia, Zhongyikupai, Zhuanzhuan and 58 Group., and they’re pledging to “work together to collectively reduce wildlife trafficking across platforms by 80% by 2020.” NPR 7 March 2018

Good people doing great work!

1.Narcotics smuggling
2. Counterfeiting
3. Human Trafficking
4.Wildlife Trafficking


Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Police


Kerston Swartz, Staff Writer
Woodland Park Zoo is serious about stopping Ilegal Wildlife Trafficking.
” We were instrumental in establishing Washington’s wildlife trade ban. We continue to ask legislature to fund state Department of Fish and Wildlife to bust traffickers. We participate in national efforts to slow the demand for endangered species products. And soon, we’re opening Assam Rhino Reserve (see page 20), an exhibit designed to activate our visitors against poaching animals. 

Today I’m at U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Port of Seattle to learn how enforcement agencies handle illegal wildlife products smuggled into our country. 

“Stand back,” I’m told. I respond by moving a few feet. “More.” I shuffle two more feet. 

“No. All the way over here.” The three U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBPO) are waving at me from 20 feet away. 

“Kind of dramatic,” I say. “What’s the zapping power of that thing?” 

Major zapping power, it turns out. Trucks carrying cargo out of the Port are being x-rayed for emitting radiation. Radiation can indicate a nuclear threat. Obviously, this is critical zapping. (The proper name of the zapper is the Radiation Portal Monitor, or RPM.) 

Cargo inspections are not only crucial to our nation’s safety, but also for the survival of endangered wildlife. If illegal cargo is found at any time in the inspection process, it’s seized and destroyed or kept as evidence for future prosecution. 

The process begins and ends with the CBPOs, who comb through the manifest of every ship entering the ports of Washington. They’re looking for peculiar details provided by the shipper—for example, a suspicious address, strange label or items from a region with prior infractions. These questionable containers are x-rayed, opened and inspected. Sometimes containers are completely emptied. 

Usually the cargo is benign and goes on its way. On occasion, inspections reveal alarming cargo: illegal wildlife, drugs, weapons, counterfeit items and even trafficked humans. 

This is no small job. In 2017, Washington ports received an astounding 1.3 million shipping containers. 

Outfoxing smugglers requires laser-focused diligence. It’s impossible to open every container. CBPOs must adjust technique constantly. Every day, they learn new details that tweak manifest reviews. 

Wildlife trafficking harms more than just animals—it also funds violent crime networks, terror organizations and drug
rings. We’re learning as much as we can about
wildlife trafficking—which impacts local 

critters and animals worldwide—so that we can inspire our guests to be part of the solution. 

Our visit to the port is just the beginning. You’ll hear more from us about actions you can take to fight wildlife crime here in the Northwest and all over the world. 

Your first act? This summer, visit our new Assam Rhino Reserve, where one of the world’s most iconic victims of wildlife crime will inspire you to join the fight. 

After all, stopping wildlife trafficking is all of our business. 


Thousands of black bears are poached for their gallbladders, which are sold to “treat” disease in traditional Asian medicine. This long-debunked myth drives the demand throughout the world, including in the U.S. Given our well-known bear population, Washington state is a target for illegal poaching of this native species. 

ACTION: It takes a lot of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers to keep illegal poachers out of our forests. Encourage your legislators to make sure WDFW enforcement is well funded.

black bears (1).jpg


Columbia River sturgeon populations
are already stressed, yet these animals continue to be illegally overharvested for luxury caviar sold on the black market. Legal harvests have been banned in other countries—increasing demand for Pacific Northwest sturgeon, and driving up incentive for poachers selling the eggs
as a gourmet item. 

ACTION: Drive the seafood black market out of business: before you purchase
caviar of any kind, check the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to make sure it’s sustainably harvested. (


Washington’s legal commercial harvest of wild geoduck generates millions of dollars in annual revenue for farmers and the state. Despite a well-regulated legal program, unlawful poaching of the Puget Sound’s giant clams has skyrocketed to meet international demand. 

ACTION: WDFW closely manages the health of our state’s waters and wildlife. Help them out by knowing regulations before you fish or clam. ( 



To skirt weight limit regulations, illegal
sea cucumber poachers lighten the load
by drying these animals before packaging and sending overseas, where they are considered a delicacy. Sustainable harvests are possible, but sea cucumbers are still rapidly declining from overharvesting. 

ACTION: Tell your state legislators you want proper oversight for all harvests coming out of Washington’s waterways. 

                                            sea cucumbers.jpg


Wild game hunting is well-managed by
our state agencies to ensure a sustainable population of Washington’s native species. Still, WDFW officers continue to catch people who ignore the law and hunt out of season or take more than is allowed. Our native elk are often targeted by unlawful hunters. ACTION: Add the wildlife crime hotline
to your phone’s contact list (1-877-933- 9847), and keep it handy when you’re in the outdoors and come across suspicious activity. 



Click the following link on Universal Giving to see how you can help us.
Let Kids Be Kids supports, volunteers and advocates to help protect endangered species across the globe. We were very involved with Washington state Initiative 1401 which passed with a greater than 70% margin in every county in the state in November 2015. It will help protect ten species from the sale of their parts.
Please see our website Let Kids Be Kids where there are links to video, photography and articles explaining more in depth our commitments. Thank you.
Photos: MBarrettMiller/ConnemaraProductions, Google images, Getty images, NPR

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