An antiques business owner recently pleaded guilty to charges related to the illegal sale of endangered and protected animal mounts from his business in Great Valley in Cattaraugus County, NY. The investigation began when ECO Wilson and an Investigator with DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) received information that a lion skin rug was being unlawfully offered for purchase at an estate sale.
Both officers, operating undercover, attended the estate sale. During the event, an antiques business owner approached the pair and claimed he had a lion skin rug for sale and could offer them the best price for the item.
The undercover officers later visited the store in Great Valley where they saw the lion skin rug on sale for $1,200 and multiple other mounted displays of endangered and protected species.
The two investigating officers, joined by a team of ECOs and an agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, entered the store, seized a series of illegal mounts valued at more than $4,000, and charged the owner of the store.
On May 10, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor illegal commercialization of wildlife in Great Valley Town Court and was sentenced to pay a fine of $2,000.
As part of the plea agreement, the subject agreed that if within one year he violates Environmental Conservation Law again, the initial felony commercialization charge will be reinstated.
Photo of ECO Hozle, BECI Investigator, and ECO Wilson with the illegal lion rug provided by DEC.