Government officials have resorted to some extreme budgeting tricks in recent years, but this one takes the cake.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the National Wildlife Property Repository is currently auctioning off 300,000 illegal items that were seized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The list of items on sale would make for one of the strangest shopping catalogues ever.
“A dozen fur coats made from Siberian weasel sold for $4,450. A box of 270 acrylic key chains, each encasing ‘one small black salamander,’ went for $35. There are table lamps made of clam shells, drums covered with unspecified mammal skin, watches festooned with mother-of-pearl. And a curious collection of clay drawfs decorated with bits of python skin,” the Journal reports.
According to the agency’s Web site, “Auction merchandise consists primarily of snake and lizard-skin clothing, shoes, boots and accessories. Jewelry, home décor items and other manufactured products made from seashells and coral will also be sold.”
The goal of the auction is to cut storage costs and raise money to pay for education initiatives and to fund the care of live animals that are seized by the Fish and Wildlife Service. At first blush, there is something odd about a government agency selling illegal goods to raise money. Imagine if you found out that cops are selling seized bags of cocaine in order to pay for a new DEA bureau. That wouldn’t go over too well.
Yet, according to the Fish and Wildlife Services, while these items violated various import regulations, they are not actually illegal to sell in the country. The one big condition is that none of these items are made from endangered species, which would be illegal to sell. “The items being auctioned, all legal to sell, have been carefully selected from the more than 1.5 million wildlife parts and products stored at the Repository. They do not include any products made from threatened and endangered species,” their site says.