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The Undercover Operation to Capture Washington State’s Biggest Wildlife Poachers

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Ben Amstutz
/
Flickr
Elk meat is one of the most trafficked items in Washington State.

This story originally aired on December 2, 2017.

Elk meat, eagle feathers, bear gallbladder. These are just a few of the items sold by wildlife traffickers in the Pacific Northwest.

 

How bad is this black market? Washington state Fish & Wildlife detective Todd Vandivert wanted to find out.

He and partner Sergeant Jennifer Maurstad went undercover as small business owners, risking their lives to bring in some of the largest animal traffickers in the region.

But as Operation Cody continued to expand, Vandivert began to see that the market for illegal wildlife was larger than he ever imagined.

Gabriel Spitzer is the Host and Senior Producer of Sound Effect, KNKX's "weekly tour of ideas inspired by the place we live." Gabriel was previously KNKX's Science and Health Reporter. He joined KNKX after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.