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The HSUS Praises NY Officials for Vigorous Investigation, Prosecution in Poaching Case

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization with nearly 821,000 members and supporters in New York state, commends the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for vigorously investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in a multistate and international reptile and amphibian poaching and smuggling ring.

The Case: 

According to the DEC, investigators conducting "Operation Shellshock" found protected native species — turtles, snakes and salamanders — illegally for sale at reptile shows and over the Internet. Eighteen people in New York were charged, in addition to six in Pennsylvania and one in Canada.

Investigators found New York's timber rattlesnakes and wood turtles shipped out of state illegally to collectors. Thousands of snapping turtles were sold to a Louisiana turtle farm to be shipped to China. The DEC stated that more than 2,400 animals were involved in the crimes. Several endangered species, including Massasauga rattlesnakes and yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles, were recovered by the agency.

"This investigation showcased the callous depth of cruel wildlife smuggling black markets. The Humane Society of the United States is pleased that New York officials have sent a strong message that this kind of wanton trade and commercialization of wildlife will not be tolerated in the state," said Patrick Kwan, New York state director for The HSUS. 


Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 to 5 percent of poachers are caught. Poachers take the opportunity to illegally profit from or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. The HSUS has established a reward program offering $2,500 for the identification, arrest and conviction of suspected wildlife poachers.

The HSUS works to stop wildlife abuses across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/wildlifeabuse for more information.


The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.