Last month, The Seattle Times showed that thousands of exotic trophy animals were imported through the Port of Seattle each year. But what do we send abroad?
The traffic of trophy animals through Seattle largely moves in one direction.
Last month, The Seattle Times showed that thousands of exotic trophy animals were imported through the Port of Seattle each year. Since 1999, nearly 66,000 trophy animals, including more than 39,000 from Africa, have been legally shipped through the Port, according to federal declaration records.
But what do we send abroad?
Since 1999, just 1,115 trophy animals from the United States were shipped out of Seattle, including 218 bears.
“We do have a lot of people who come to the U.S. and the Pacific Northwest specifically to hunt black bears, and then they export them,” said John Goldman, who supervises the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s inspection process at the Port of Seattle.
Moose, sheep, caribou, deer, pronghorn, elk, rabbit, bison and cougar are among the other animals most exported. Just 26 animals that were killed in the U.S. were exported from Seattle to Africa.
Some of those animals, including two large shipments of caribou and Dall’s sheep, likely were from Alaska. Wildlife could be from other states, too, because the federal data don’t specify the state in which the animals were killed.
Germany, Japan, Australia, Spain and Austria were the top destinations for trophy animals shipped through Seattle since 1999.
“The developed countries of the world do a lot more recreational hunting,” explained Goldman.
The Port plays a more substantial role in commercial trade. Since 1999, nearly 23?million mink skins from the U.S. have been shipped from Seattle.
“Without a doubt, mink is the No. 1 export out of the Port of Seattle,” Goldman said. “There’s a huge demand for fur in Asia.”
Known as the slime eel, a hagfish “slimes its enemies, has rows of teeth on its tongue, and feeds on the innards of rotting fish by penetrating any orifice,” according to The Associated Press.
Deer skins are another popular export. They are often sent from the United States for manufacture as fly-fishing ties or gloves, Goldman said. Once finished, they’re sent back to the U.S.
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Since 1999, more than 5?million deer skins have been sent from the Port of Seattle, primarily to Hong Kong.
Other common commercial exports include live sea urchins and elk, muskrat, raccoon, marten and coyote skins.
Fish and Wildlife Service inspectors don’t have to record every species exported. Fishery products and shellfish intended for consumption, for example, are exempt from declaration.