Did you know there are over 50,000 non-native species of plants, animals (including insects) and microbes in this country? This costs us over $150 billion a year in control and damages! Plus, nearly 50% of our native species listed as endangered or threatened in the U.S. are at risk because of these nonnative species, which can multiply and outcompete our native species.
So, when you hear of someone who is smuggling “pets” into this country, or buying smuggled pests, you have a right to be very upset! Smuggling illegal pets is more common than you might think. Some of these poachers get caught, like the Australian who tried to smuggle out 31 lizards and faced up to 10 years in prison. A few years ago, a person was caught smuggling 600 rare Mexican Red-Kneed tarantulas into the U.S. He faced a sentence of up to 25 years in prison plus a $1.25 million fine. (The spiders are protected under Mexican law and the U.S. Endangered Species Act.)
It is illegal to bring in any living insect, animal, or plant without a permit. It may seem harmless, but when some of these “pets” get loose, they can become very costly to control, as well as cause environmental havoc.