Flying squirrels illegally shipped to Asia — Florida agency

Flying squirrel trafficking ring busted by Florida wildlife officials Report

Last January, the FWC launched an investigation into a complaint from a citizen who was concerned individuals were illegally trapping the animals, which are often dubbed "gliding squirrels" because they have the capacity to glide through the air between trees.

The seven suspects are facing multiple charges including racketeering, money laundering, and scheming to defraud, according to the FWC.

The investigation, which also involved the Illinois Conservation Police, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Homeland Security Investigations, found that the seven people charged were also involved in the illegal dealing of other animals, including protected freshwater turtles and alligators, according to the FWC.

According to the FWC, the flying squirrels, which were collected over the course of less than three years, have an global value of more than $1 million.

From Chicago, the squirrels were flown to Asia "by an unwitting worldwide wildlife exporter", the press release states.


Investigators allege the flying squirrels were poached in several central Florida counties and sold to Bushnell wildlife breeder Rodney Crendell Knox, 66, owner of Knox Farm, who maintained the creatures had been bred in captivity and allegedly received $213,800 for participating in the scheme.

Buyers from South Korea traveled to the United States and bought the squirrels from the wildlife dealer in Bushnell, according to the press release. Six of the 7 people have been arrested, while 1 is a fugitive, it said, adding that 4 of those arrested were from Florida and 2 from Georgia.

"If it crawls or flies in Florida, and there's a market for it, and it's legal, I'll catch it ... and if I can't, I'll figure a way", Knox told wildlife officers during the course of the investigation, National Geographic reported. The agency said more arrests are expected.

Flying squirrels weren't the only victims: The suspects also profited from dealings with other poached animals - protected freshwater turtles and alligators with falsified documents to hide their origin.

Buyers on the receiving end of the trafficking ring probably purchased the flying squirrels as pets. Contrary to their name, the nocturnal rodents don't fly, but, rather, glide from tree to tree.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

Pa. reports 2,219 new coronavirus cases, its largest one-day total ever
The health ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities. Locally, Stearns County had 106 new cases, Sherburne County had 26 and Benton County had 25.

More Than 50 Million Vote Early In US Presidential Election
That figure is expected to be much lower Saturday due to the popularity of mail-in and advance voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if you wish to vote via absentee ballot, the last day to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Google Play Music Has Officially Started Shutting Down
I can tell you that Tim and I still have access to Play Music in all of our accounts, so the service clearly isn't fully dead yet. YouTube Music, meanwhile, is getting a few upgrades on Android Auto, including increasing functionality for free users.

Czech PM tells health minister to quit after lockdown violation
The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital has surpassed 5000 for the first time, putting the health system under pressure. Prymula stated the health system could fall approximately November 10 when the steps were not taken, Prymula explained.

FDA OKs Remdesivir, First Drug for COVID-19
Clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of the drug in this pediatric patient population are ongoing, the FDA said. Remdesivir, an antiviral medication given intravenously, is now approved for anyone hospitalized with COVID-19.

Other news