Vermont state game wardens this morning seized two monkeys from an Eden home and charged a man with illegally importing and possessing the animals.
According to Col. Robert Rooks, the director of law enforcement for the Agency of Natural Resources’ Department of Fish and Wildlife, John W. Aszklar, 56, of Eden, was charged with two counts of unlawful importation and possession of an exotic wild animal without a permit. He was cited into Lamoille District Court to answer the charges. If convicted, he faces $2,000 in fines and a three-year loss of his hunting and fishing licenses.
The primates - which Department of Fish and Wildlife officials had been tracking for two years - were identified as a Rhesus Macaque Monkey and a Debrazza’s Monkey. Rhesus Macaque monkeys are originally from Asia and are considered poor pets because they can become aggressive and are prone to biting. Debrazza’s monkeys are originally from Africa, preferring to live in swamps, bamboo stands and dry mountain forests. Their use as pets is considered a major threat to the species.
The two monkeys will be transported to an exotic wild animal rescue organization in another state.
“Illegal wildlife that is imported into Vermont poses a serious threat to human and domestic animal health and safety,” Rooks said in a released statement from the department. “Many well-meaning people may think it would be exciting to own an exotic wild animal, but they do not recognize the risks to them and to the animal.” Primates often bite, and many can transmit hepatitis B to humans.
Col. Rooks said that unlawful importation of exotic wildlife is an increasing problem in Vermont. Earlier this spring, wardens seized an alligator in Brattleboro. Other exotic species illegally imported into - and seized from - Vermont include mountain lions and other exotic cats; wallabies; venomous snakes of all kinds; and many dangerous reptiles and amphibians.