Oregon program has traffickers helping researchers understand wildlife crime

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspector opens a crate at a warehouse in search of illegal imports. Credit: Catherine J. HIbbard/USFWS

A unique program has convicted wildlife traffickers in Oregon working with researchers to understand why people commit wildlife crimes. The conditions of their sentences involve community service with University of Maryland professor Meredith Gore. The program is backed by U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I think it’s great to look deeper into root causes, to understand why people are doing these kinds of things so we can prevent it in the future,” assistant U.S. attorney Pam Paaso told National Geographic.

Gore and her collaborators have been meeting on Zoom with three offenders—one accused of smuggling turtles, another of selling pangolin scales and a third of illegally importing and exporting scorpions.

“I’m seeing much more about motivations, attitudes, behaviors, and just the emotions of it all,” Gore said.

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