Endangered Species Act (ESA)
KNOW YOUR SKINS
Exotic skins have been used to make handbags for centuries. There were literally dozens of wild reptile, fish, bird, and animal skins of all imaginable types and sizes that artisans of the past were able to utilize in their search for perfection—an artful exotic skin handbag. Our collection does not promote any articles made from the skins of endangered species. It concentrates on antique and vintage products legally and lawfully manufactured and distributed by leading American brands in the course of the last century, decades before any regulations were put in place. It also addresses the confusing issue of terminology caused by cultural differences of many industries involved.
Alligator and crocodile skins have been particularly desirable since their introduction in fashion as ultimate status materials in the late 19th century. At that time, the process of harvesting wild skins was very dangerous and expensive causing extremely limited supply and sharply growing demand. As a result, some species were brought to virtual extinction. Currently, from thousands of recognized reptiles several hundreds are listed as threatened in the IUCN Red Book of Threatened Animals. Consequently, the urgency of the problem has prompted the implementation of high-scope, international environmental programs in order to recuperate the endangered species and develop ranching industry. That's why “recycling” of antique and vintage exotic skin handbags is regarded as a valuable contribution to the preservation of endangered species.
One of the success stories of such preservation became the story of American Alligator. The data compiled by the FAAC (The Louisiana Fur and Alligator Advisory Council) states that the American Alligator was hunted in the wild since the 19th century. As a result of lack of regulations, by the 1960s its population had dwindled. Consequently, in 1962, the State of Louisiana banned its hunting and in 1967 it was put on the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) list. By the end of the 1980s, the appropriate corrective legislation and conservation measures resulted in the successful rescuing of the American Alligator from extinction. "In 1987, the Fish and Wildlife Service pronounced the American Alligator fully recovered and consequently removed from the list of the endangered species. Although the American Alligator is secure, some related animals - such as several species of crocodiles and caimans - are still in trouble. For this reason, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) continues to protect the alligator under the ESA classification as "threatened due to similarity of appearance" (American Alligator, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 2011).
The USFWS Law Enforcement office thus regulates the harvest of alligators and legal trade in products made from their skins (brand-new or vintage, pre-owned or used), as part of the effort to prevent illegal take and trafficking of endangered "look-alike" reptiles.
For the detailed information, please contact your regional USFWS office (www.fws.gov).