Wildlife trade products available to U.S. military personnel serving abroad
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Military personnel and affiliates have significant buying power that can influence demand for wildlife products. Purchase and transport of certain wildlife products violates United States laws, military regulations, and national country laws where the items were purchased. We surveyed military bazaars (n = 4) in Kabul, Afghanistan from June 2007 to March 2009 to observe which species were available to soldiers. In June 2008, we conducted a pilot survey of U.S. Army personnel (n = 371) stationed at Fort Drum, New York, USA, who had been deployed or stationed overseas including in Afghanistan and Iraq. Soldiers reported skins of wild felids and gray wolf Canis lupus as most commonly observed wildlife products available for sale in Afghanistan. Forty percent of respondents said they had either purchased or seen other members of the military purchase or use wildlife products. The U.S. military was willing to assist in curtailing supply and demand for wildlife products in order to protect soldiers from unknowingly breaking the law and to conserve wildlife in the countries where they serve. Regular, focused training of military personnel should be considered an important step to reducing trade in wildlife products by addressing both demand and market supply.