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Posted by W von Papinešu on April 23, 2003 at 21:00:08:
HONOLULU ADVERTISER (Hawaii) 24 April 03 Amnesty program produces an illegal eyeful (Zenaida Serrano Espanol)
Five illegal lizards and a tarantula were turned in yesterday to the state Department of Agriculture under the state's amnesty program, officials said.
An unidentified man turned in four bearded dragons and one spiny-tailed agamid to the department's Plant Quarantine Branch in Honolulu.
The man told officials he was turning in the foot-long lizards on behalf of a friend. Under the amnesty program, the state will not prosecute people who surrender illegal animals.
Meanwhile, in Hilo, an unidentified woman turned in the tarantula to Pana'ewa Zoo, which handed it over to plant quarantine workers. The woman said she found the illegal spider in a car that she had bought recently.
Lisa Yasunaga, a land vertebrate specialist with the department, said people use several ways to smuggle such creatures into Hawai'i.
"They could come in through first-class mail ... and they could smuggle them in through baggage because with the X-ray points and detector points, they're looking for contraband," Yasunaga said. "They're not looking for animals."
Yasunaga noted that the bearded dragons require extensive care. The lizards need a controlled environment with artificial heat and a highly regulated diet.
Anyone with illegal pets is encouraged to turn them in under the amnesty program. Anyone with information about illegal animals may call the pest hot line at 586-7378 or the Plant Quarantine Branch at 832-0566.