The owners of a vintage clothing store in San Francisco were shocked when California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) agents conducted what they called a “raid.” The Department had received reports that the store was in possession of or selling a prohibited species and sent game wardens to investigate.
Neither the owner, Cicely Hansen, nor her son, J.T. Hansen, were aware of state and federal laws that prohibit the sale of certain furs and other types of products made from endangered animals. J.T. Hansen alerted KQED to the raid on their store—Decades of Fashion, which is located in the Haight/Ashbury district.
Both state and federal game wardens combed through the store’s inventory looking for illegal garments that had been made from the carcasses of endangered species. Three US Department of Fish and Wildlife Service officers joined eight CDFW game wardens to conduct the search.
The store’s owners were under the impression that furs and similar items were so old that they predated the laws that prohibited their sale. However, CDRW spokesman Andrew Hughan said that people can possess furs that predate a 1970 law, but they are not allowed to sell them. Hughan also stated that business owners are responsible for knowing which types of clothing could be illegal to sell.
California’s penal code prohibits importing or possessing for sale any part or product from a wide array of species. These include polar bears, tigers, cheetahs, ocelots, leopards, jaguars, sable, wolves, antelopes, zebras, whales, pythons, cobras, sea turtles, sea otters, colobus monkeys, kangaroos, Spanish lynx, free roaming feral horses, elephants, dolphins, or porpoises.
Game wardens found several pieces of evidence during their initial search and were continuing to assess the merchandise. It is likely that the storeowners will face a fine.