Society

Lumber Liquidators To Pay $13 Million For Harvesting Wood From Endangered Animal Habitat

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
siberian tigersiberian tiger

Lumber Liquidators pleaded guilty on Oct. 22 to illegally importing wood that originated from the habitat of endangered Siberian tigers and Amur leopards in eastern Russia.

The flooring company agreed to pay more than $13 million in fines, CBS News reported.

The company was charged with one felony count of importing goods through false statements and four misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act, which prohibits obtaining lumber by violating local laws and falsely labeling it for transport. This case marked the greatest criminal fine under the Lacey Act to date.

Assistant Attorney General John Cruden for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division released a statement, which read: "Lumber Liquidators' race to profit resulted in the plundering of forests and wildlife habitat that, if continued, could spell the end of the Siberian tiger."

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According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, there are about 500 Siberian tigers left in the wild, and the vast majority of them are in eastern Russia. However, the Amur leopard is considered critically endangered, and experts estimate there 57 of them living in Russia.

Up to 30 percent of all harvested lumber in the world is cut illegally, and eastern Russia is “a hot spot for such criminal logging,” the Sierra Club reports.

"The illegal timber trade represents a grave threat to the welfare and conservation of critically endangered wild tiger populations, and we applaud the Department of Justice for working to protect the habitats of wildlife," Elizabeth Hogan, campaign manager for U.S. Oceans and Wildlife at World Animal Protection, said in a statement.

Sources: Sierra Club, CBS News / Photo credit: Tim Strater/Flickr