'Prey model' pet diet sparks illegal online wild game business
Florida officials warn pat owners from purchasing from illicit sources
The "prey diet," which involves feeding animals raw game similar to what they would hunt in the wild, has jump-started an illegal wild game-selling business on the Internet, according to Florida officials quoted in a USA Today article.
According to wildlife investigators, people caught selling raw meat without a permit face up to five years in jail and a US$5,000 fine. Those buying the illegally obtained game face up to six months in jail and a US$500 fine. "It's happening nationwide," said Lt. George Wilson, head of the Florida Fish and Wildlife's Internet Crimes Unit. "The philosophy behind it is feeding your pet a hormone-free, naturally grazed diet. We're seeing solicitations for wild ducks, anything wild." So far, the crime unit has logged 177 arrests and 92 warnings for cases involving illegally buying or selling raw wildlife, and some of those involved have been purchasing for their pets.
For now, raw wild game for pets is difficult to come by legally because the market is so small. Officials say that people attempting to buy from illegal sources online have been given warnings, but that leniency won't last forever. "Our interest here is to protect our natural resources," said Wilson. "If this is allowed to go unchecked, it could create a black market that would impact the populations of wildlife in Florida."