Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Federal prosecution for importation of "bushmeat"

The New York Times ran this report on Saturday regarding the federal prosecution of a woman charged with the importation of "bushmeat," or the meat of wild African animals. The article contains quotes from the director of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, who estimates that 15,000 pounds of bushmeat come to market in the United States every month.

In the criminal case being prosecuted, the meat in question came from baboon, green monkey and warthog. A number of different parties have expressed interest in the case. Conservationists see the importation of the meat from wild animals as a severe threat. Other scientists have expressed concern about the spread of existing or the introduction of new diseases. The story notes that "ebola can be contracted by butchering chimpanzees, and the first human case of H.I.V. probably originated through similar exposure."

The defendant's lawyer has filed a motion to dismiss the indictment arguing that the consumption of bushmeat is protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

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