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March 1, 2012

The HSUS Applauds Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for Cracking Down on Alleged Wildlife Abuse

The Humane Society of the United States commends Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for Monday’s wildlife seizure in Palm Beach County, Fla. and Wednesday’s crackdown on alleged poaching crimes in five Florida counties.

“The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for a phenomenal week cracking down on alleged wildlife abuse,” said Jennifer Hobgood, Ph.D., wildlife abuse campaign policy manager for The HSUS. “Illegal commercialization, hunting and housing wild animals in inhumane, captive conditions are devastating to the welfare of wild animals and the conservation of the species. The HSUS urges law enforcement to continue to aggressively investigate, and if warranted, prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

On Monday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission seized two tigers and a leopard from a Palm Beach County property maintained by Steve Sipek and Melanie Boynes. Media accounts identify Sipek as a film actor who once played “Tarzan.” The animals had allegedly been declawed after the owners had been warned against doing so by law enforcement. The animals were reportedly fed an inappropriate diet and housed in improperly secured enclosures. The leopard had a grapefruit-sized abscess.

In a separate case on Wednesday, the FWC charged 56 individuals in Putnam, St. Johns, Alachua, Volusia and Marion counties with illegal hunting and illegal wildlife commercialization crimes, including 34 felonies.

With the help of citizens who report suspected wildlife violations to the Wildlife Alert tip line (888-404-FWCC), FWC officers are on the front lines of the effort to apprehend and bring to justice those who wantonly exploit wild animals.

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Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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