Lumber Liquidators Pleads Guilty To Selling Hardwood From Endangered Big Cat Habitats

Image courtesy of (Erik H)

Lumber Liquidators has officially pleaded guilty to violations of the Lacey Act, a law that bans illegally-harvested animal and plant products, including trees, from sale in the United States. It turns out that the offending hardwoods were illegally harvested because they were in forests in eastern Russia that are home to two species of endangered wild cats: the Amur leopard and the Siberian tiger.

The Lacey Act is a 115-year-old law that was originally meant to keep commercial hunters from moving illegally-hunted animals across state lines. This protected over-hunted game animals from being transported and sold by commercial hunters, and also helped keep people from transporting live animals to another area where they might lack natural predators and become an invasive species.

Wood wasn’t part of the Lacey Act until a 2008 amendment, which was controversial even before the current accusations against Lumber Liquidators. The trees must be illegal to harvest in the country they were taken from, and not necessarily in the United States. Gibson Guitars was accused of importing illegally-harvested hardwoods beginning in 2009, ultimately pleading guilty and paying penalties in 2012.

Part of the company’s punishment is that it will pay $880,825 and $350,000 respectively to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, though the leopards seem to be left out of this transaction.

The settlement of this case doesn’t mean that the investigation of other flooring products that allegedly give off excessive amounts of formaldehyde is over: that’s a separate issue.

Lumber Liquidators pleads guilty to Lacey Act violations [MarketWatch]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.