Woman Sentenced For Selling Rare Exotic Cats

The sale of ocelots violates the Endangered Species Act.

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Cat Exotic OcelotAn Oregon woman received a 10-month sentence Monday for selling rare ocelots in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Deborah L. Walding of Beaverton was ordered to spend a month in prison and nine months in home detention for the crime.

Walding sold four ocelots, beginning in 2002. She pleaded guilty in June in an ocelot-trafficking case and agreed to help the government investigate the illicit trade of exotic animals.

With her help, the U.S. government was able to expand its investigation, interviewing other witnesses and executing search warrants in Texas and California.

In addition to the jail sentence issued Monday, Walding was ordered to pay $25,000 to World Wildlife Fund.

Ocelots, which resemble small leopards, can be found in Central and South America, as well as parts of Texas. They have an average lifespan of eight to 11 years in the wild, but have been known to live more than twice that in captivity.

The International Species Information Service lists 217 of them worldwide, 108 of which live in the United States. They've been on the endangered species list since 1972.

Posted: April 13, 2006, 5:00 a.m. EST

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