Trader in illegal animal parts prosecuted

Liz Williams —  March 8, 2018 — Leave a comment

INVERNESS, Scotland — Gordon Taylor, the owner of an online business called Wild Wizard Crafts, has been prosecuted following a raid on his home. Taylor, known in the Pagan community as Kai Seidr, had posted animal parts parts for sale, including owl heads in jars, a pendant made from the foot of a tawny owl, and other items, directed at the Pagan and shamanic market.

Among the animal parts discovered were the heads of two barn owls similar to the one pictured [Wikimedia Commons].

Seidr admitted to trading in parts from protected species and was given a £750 fine. Assistant prosecutor Laura Buchan is quoted as saying, “I welcome today’s sentence and the message it sends to anyone involved in this illegal market. The existence of such a market drives persecution of these protected species. In addition the prosecution highlights to other commercial sellers that they need to understand the legislation and take seriously their obligations in respect of the international convention on the trade in endangered species of fauna and flora.”

The law on dealing in animal parts is strict in the U.K. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 covers wildlife protection, including protection of wild birds, their eggs and nests, protection of other animal and protection of plants. Taxidermists are permitted to sell stuffed examples of currently protected species if they date from an earlier period (prior to 1947) such as Victorian or Edwardian examples. However, with regard to later species, they are required to show provenance: it is not, for example, illegal to stuff an owl that you find dead, but you need a certificate for it, called an A10. Certification is currently issued in line with EU law and requires the species concerned to be listed along with a log book number and cause of death (for example: hit by a car). There are then a number of options which must be ticked – for instance, that the specimen was taken from the wild in accordance with the legislation in the member state.

Tight laws do not just apply to British wildlife. Currently, trading in antique ivory produced before 1947 is still legal, but is unfortunately being used as a cover for illegally obtained ivory. The World Wildlife Fund is therefore seeking a ban on the entire ivory trade within the U.K. in order to stamp out the root cause: illegal elephant killing. They are also seeking tighter measures on wildlife trading offences:

“We are currently advocating for the introduction of sentencing guidelines for wildlife trade offences in England and Wales. A new report by WWF analysed 174 cases of illegal wildlife trade in England and Wales and found that sentencing was considered to be inconsistent and lenient when the high profits and significant harms of offending were taken into account. The report shows that one of the reasons for lenient sentences is that judges and sentencers might not be informed about the seriousness of wildlife trade offences.”

They are working with the Wildlife Crime Initiative, launched in 2014, which is a collaborative effort between the WWF and TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network). They state, “As part of the campaign in the U.K., we called on government ministers to recognise the importance of the National Wildlife Crime Unit – a specialist police unit working to stop wildlife crime in the U.K. – and commit to providing sustained, long-term funding for the unit.

“This was achieved in 2014 when the government extended its funding for the unit for two years. We’ll continue to campaign to secure the future of the unit, including funding for a specialist officer dedicated to the growing problem of illegal internet-based wildlife trade.”

Pagans, particularly people working shamanically with animal parts, need to be conscious that they must be aware of the law (ignorance of the law being no excuse) with regard to animal and bird parts, even if these are found items.

Seidr declined to comment to the Wild Hunt.

Liz Williams

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Liz Williams is a professional writer and, with her partner, runs a witchcraft supply business and bookshop in Glastonbury, England. She has written for the Guardian and other publications on pagan themes, and is a member of various pagan organisations, including the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.