Snapp paid cash, and a forklift dropped the box onto the truck. Once home in Riverside, he found a corner of his property sheltered from the breeze and added dermestid beetles. Soon he could hear them chewing away, a sound like a child eating Cheetos.But, years later, when he tried to sell it across state lines, it was a violation of the ESA.
It took two years, and when the beetles were done, Snapp washed the skull with peroxide, named her Tiffany -- the glittery name from a tiara that he had saved from a Halloween costume -- and put her on display.
In the end, [the government agent] wasn't concerned that it had come from the zoo. That it was on the market was enough. It fueled an appetite for endangered species, and his job -- indeed, the government's job -- was to stop the trade of illegal wildlife products in the United States.And that's the key: stopping the trade to protect the animals. Snapp was only successfully prosecuted because the government was able to convince a jury that "Snapp knew that selling the skull across state lines was illegal and ... he was a regular in the trade."
He may have broken the letter of the law, but as he saw it, he hadn't endangered any species by trying to sell the skull. He saw himself as no different from piano manufacturers who ship antique ivory keys around the country....Of course, legally, it's not a question of how he sees it. The ESA contains the penalties the government saw fit to enact. Apparently, the theory is that the market in animal body parts endangers the animals that are still alive. A man can convince himself that what he wants to do isn't really the problem that led the government to pass the law, but that doesn't entitle him to do the things that the law proscribes.