A recent story on problems with CITES for flowers surprised me. An elephant has feelings, but a flower seems like just a flower. Yet the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service takes orchids very seriously:
When 60-year-old Kathy Norris asked court officials why U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's very own SWAT team had raided and ransacked her home, they helpfully explained, “You don't need to know. You can't know.”(via bOING bOING)
George [Norris], along with his business associate Peruvian grower Manuel Arias-Silver, is charged with conspiracy to smuggle endangered phragmipediums (orchids) into the U.S. Since Manuel is one of only three growers to have been given permission by the Peruvian government to artificially propagate the newly discovered phragmipedium Kovachii, it appears that the U.S. government has singled out the pair for special attention over suspicions that this is the species they were smuggling. There appears to be little evidence of this, though it is likely the pair were taking some shortcuts on paperwork because of the challenges of importing other, legally propagated species, into the U.S.