Agnes Jinhong Yu, 53, of Happy Valley, pleaded guilty this month to selling dried shark fin through Wing Ming Herbs, a specialty food store in Southeast Portland that she and her husband own.
On June 4, Yu was sentenced to 12 months bench probation, $1,000 in fines and $360 in restitutions for the Class A Misdemeanor.
An undercover Oregon State Police sting was instrumental in discovering and then making the case. When an anonymous source approached state troopers and said they had heard Wing Ming Herbs was selling shark fin, detectives enlisted the source as an undercover informant to assist in a sting operation.
According to OSP Lt. Ryan Howell, on Jan. 23, 2018, the informant was able to record the purchase of six packages of dried, processed shark fin. Yu was not cited for the offense until September 2019 due to a separate investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Oregon sentencing standards are tougher than federal guidelines, and Yu's sentencing marks the first conviction under a 2011 Oregon law that prohibits possession, sale, trade or distribution of shark fins to preserve vulnerable shark populations.
The Oregon Zoo, which is a member of the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and partners on a range of policy, awareness, and enforcement efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade, is pleased with the conviction, according to Zoo Director Don Moore.
"Now, poachers and traffickers are finding it harder to find safe haven in our state, and the timing is critical. This case shows that Oregonians can and will take action in our own backyard to protect endangered wildlife around the world," said Moore.
A lot has changed for illegal wildlife trade and poaching in Oregon, according to Dr. Sristi Kamal, Senior NW Representative with wildlife advocacy organization Defenders of Wildlife.
"Defenders' work in protecting wildlife species doesn't stop at the border," she said. "Timely enforcement and prosecution can go a long way in acting as a deterrent to both the demand and the supply of the illegal wildlife trade. We can prevent the treatment of wildlife from different parts of the world as mere commodities to trade in our state."
ODFW Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw agrees. "When people create avenues for illegally selling imported wildlife, it creates the infrastructure for Oregon wildlife like bears, raptors, turtles and sturgeon, to be illegally traded as well," she said. "This is a win not only because it stopped wildlife trafficking in one location, but also because it weakens those illegal networks."
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