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Etsy HQ makes tentative first steps to review sale of endangered animal products

a pre-ban ocelot fur purse, listed on Etsy

a pre-ban ocelot fur purse, listed on Etsy

Earlier this month, we discovered hundreds of illegal listings for products made with parts of endangered animals on the trend-setting online marketplace Etsy.com. After several attempts to be heard by Etsy HQ, we launched a petition asking Etsy headquarters to adopt a policy that would prohibit such items from the site – and you’ve stepped up in a big way: Thanks to your support in spreading the word, more than 31,000 people have signed the petition already – and we’re hoping many more will add their voices!

In the last week, Etsy HQ has taken some encouraging first steps to address this disturbing and illegal trade in parts of endangered species. Etsy’s CEO, Chad Dickerson, has reached out to the Snow Leopard Trust to inform us that they are aware of the issue and have contacted the US Fish & Wildlife Services to gain a better understanding of the situation.

We’re happy to see that Etsy HQ has taken this first step, which will hopefully lead to them adopting wildlife-friendly policies that will keep endangered animal products off this thriving marketplace – for the benefit of wildlife and the Etsy community.

For now, however, there remain hundreds of illegal listings for pre-ban leopard fur, rhino horn and other endangered animal parts on Etsy.com – and so we’re eagerly awaiting more concrete steps from Etsy HQ to address this disappointing situation.

We will remain in contact with Etsy HQ and the US Fish & Wildlife Services and have offered to help with the development of policies if it would be helpful.  We will also continue to monitor the endangered species products listed on Etsy.com to see if there is any short-term progress – feel free to help!

 

Celestial says:

Seems folks are confused by wildlife laws. It seems that you are, too. Here is how this actually works:

The Convention in International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) lists certain animals in varying Appendices according to their conservation status. There are three Appendices: Appendix III, Appendix II, and Appendix I species. Those which are listed as Appendix I and II are given the highest protections, as these animals are either threatened, endangered, or are considered a “lookalike species” to one which is listed as either threatened or endangered.

The varying Appendices have gone into place to grant protection to certain animals at certain times in history. We’ll use ocelots and all other spotted/striped exotic cat species as an example; They were listed and given protection in 1947.

Now, if an item made from such an animal pre-dates 1947, it is what’s known as “pre-ban” and CAN BE LEGALLY SOLD AND PURCHASED UNDER CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS so long as it can be proven that the item does indeed pre-date the 1947 ban, and if it is not sold or purchased from outside its country of current residence. If an ocelot skin purse made and dated to 1920 is located in the USA, it cannot leave the USA, BUT IT IS STILL PERFECTLY LEGAL TO SELL IT ON ETSY TO A US RESIDENT.

On top of this, some pre-ban items from Appendix I species cannot be sold or transported outside of state lines. If someone in Colorado has a pre-ban tiger pelt, they cannot sell it to a customer who is a legal resident of Wyoming, nor can they sell it to a Colorado native living in Wyoming. They can, however, sell it to anyone they wish so long as the buyer is a legal resident of Colorado and does not intend to bring the tiger pelt outside the state lines.

There are plenty of sellers on Etsy who follow the laws to a T and who are not doing anything illegal at all. Banning them from selling antique wildlife parts would be infringing their rights to do what is perfectly legal for them to do. It’s the sellers who are listing items as “pre-ban” without documentation, or who are selling items internationally that cannot be legally sold internationally that should be getting the blame; not ALL sellers of wildlife items as a whole.

Get your facts straight. Use your logic. Do your research. Crack down on the people who are selling actual illegal wildlife, and leave the others alone.

June 17, 2013, 5:30 pm

K. Dipinto says:

Thanks for listening and for taking the first steps toward ending the sale of endangered animal parts on Etsy.

June 17, 2013, 5:50 pm

matthias says:

according to the US Fish & Wildlife Services, “pre-ban” items made from species listed in appendix I of CITES can not be sold or offered for sale across state or international borders, regardless of age or provenance. If you can’t prove they’re pre-ban, they can’t be sold at all.

To use your example, the ocelot is listed in appendix I of CITES, so no parts of it can be sold or offered for sale outside of the US state the seller resides in. Listing an item for sale on Etsy constitutes an offer for sale across state lines – so a US-wide listing for an ocelot fur purse from the 1920s is in fact illegal.

A few sellers who list such items on Etsy specify that they can’t sell across state lines, most do not – and since Etsy doesn’t allow for shipping to be restricted to a specific state, those listings violate the Endangered Species Act.

Lastly, we are not trying to blame anyone. We’re simply trying to convince Etsy to explicitly prohibit any items made with parts of ENDANGERED species only from their site – because it fuels the demand for such parts, which is the main motivation for poaching.

June 17, 2013, 6:40 pm

Emma G. says:

Celestial, you are missing part of the equation. While it may be legal to sell verifiable pre-ban items, these sales encourages the trade in (and killing of) endangered species by making the items fashionable. At the end of the day it’s not just about the letter of the law and personal freedom. It’s also an ethical question. The choices we make determine what kind of world we live in and what kind of stewards we are.

July 11, 2013, 8:23 pm

Emma G. says:

Celestial, you are missing part of the equation. While it may be legal to sell verifiable pre-ban items, these sales encourage the trade in (and killing of) endangered species by making the items fashionable. At the end of the day it’s not just about the letter of the law and personal freedom. It’s also an ethical question. The choices we make determine what kind of world we live in and what kind of stewards we are.

July 11, 2013, 8:23 pm

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