BUSHNELL, Fla. — Seven people face felony charges in connection with a scheme to illegally trap and sell flying squirrels in Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the squirrels, which are protecting wild animals, were being caught in multiple counties throughout Central Florida.
Investigators said the animals would then be sold to a wildlife dealer and laundered to a licensed business to make it appear the squirrels were bred in captivity.
3,600 smuggled flying squirrels = 7 arrests: https://t.co/rpbAr6CQ9S. Thousands of wild southern flying #squirrels were stolen from #Florida & shipped to a South Korean buyer: https://t.co/dFJdNHQNZW pic.twitter.com/OZAJZO89hz— MyFWC (@MyFWC) October 19, 2020
Officials said the poachers used as many as 10,000 squirrel traps, capturing around 3,600 of the animals in less than three years.
Buyers from South Korea would travel to Florida and purchase the flying squirrels from the wildlife dealer, according to the FWC.
During the investigation, officials said the suspected poachers were also dealing other species, including protected freshwater turtles and alligators.
Suspects charged in the case include:
- Rodney Crendell Knox, 66, Bushnell, Florida
- Kenneth Lee Roebuck, 59, Lake Panasoffkee, Florida
- Donald Lee Harrod Jr., 49, Bushnell, Florida
- Vester Ray Taylor Jr., 40, Webster, Florida
- Jong Yun Baek, 56, Marietta, Georgia
- Ervin Woodyard Jr, 40, Greenville, Georgia
- An unnamed fugitive