What’s scarier than the goriest slasher film? How about a stuffed tiger fetus? Or what about 45,000 dead seahorses — dried, wrapped in plastic and sitting in a cavernous warehouse full of seized illegal wildlife products?
Frighteningly enough, both — and even worse — can be found at the National Wildlife Property Repository located just outside of Denver.
Coleen Schaefer, Supervisory Wildlife Repository Specialist runs the repository for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, providing tours to bring to light the grim reality of the thousands of animal products trafficked in the US ever year. The 22,000-square-foot facility is filled to the rafters with tiger skins, ivory tusks and trinkets, traditional Chinese medicines made from rhino horn, and various parts from endangered species.
WildAid Visits the National Wildlife Property Repository (USFWS) from WildAid on Vimeo. Produced by Kari Birdseye / Editor: Alan Toth
What’s even more horrifying is that not all of the wildlife products trafficked and seized in this country are stored there. Schaefer and her team inventory, store and provide security for the confiscated wildlife property that will be useful in creating awareness of wildlife trafficking. They are loaned out or donated to educational facilities, nonprofit organizations and conservation agencies to do the same.
Public tours are also available. For this Halloween, we provide you with this tour. (But don't worry, we’ve kept the lights on.)
Last month, WildAid and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have launched #StopWildlifeTrafficking, a nationwide public awareness campaign against the illegal wildlife trade in support of the White House National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking.
For more information on wildlife trafficking in the US and how you can help reduce demand for these products, visit stopwildlifetrafficking.org.