5 Dec 2010

Man arrested for mailing tarantulas to US

6:18 am on 5 December 2010

A German national who is believed to have sent hundreds of live tarantula spiders to the United States, by post, is being prosecuted for illegally importing wildlife.

Sven Koppler, 37, was arrested when he flew to Los Angeles on Thursday to meet an associate.

Prosecutors say an investigation began when about 300 spiders were found in a package during a routine inspection in March.

Two other packages were intercepted later by Fish and Wildlife Service agents. One contained nearly 250 live tarantulas, inside colored plastic straws.

The second package had 22 Mexican red-kneed tarantulas, a species known as Brachypelma smithi which is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Wildlife Service agents believe Koppler received about $US300,000 for selling tarantulas to individuals in dozens of countries throughout the world.