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$18,900 alligator handbag destroyed over $50 import permit

A West Australia woman paid $18,900 for an alligator-skin handbag from a French boutique, but it was destroyed by Australian customs officials when she failed to purchase a $50 import permit. File Photo by Michael Bush/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/038a9a0c85f8e0db3a9cf4c215f14a5b/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A West Australia woman paid $18,900 for an alligator-skin handbag from a French boutique, but it was destroyed by Australian customs officials when she failed to purchase a $50 import permit. File Photo by Michael Bush/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 3 (UPI) -- An $18,900 alligator skin handbag was destroyed by customs officials in Australia over a $50 importation permit its owner failed to purchase.

Australian Border Force officers seized the bag at a Perth air cargo depot after it was purchased by a West Australian woman from a St. Laurent boutique in France.

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The bag was seized on suspicion of involvement in the illegal wildlife trade. Officials said alligator-derived products are legal in Australia, but are closely regulated through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITIES.

Authorities said the woman had obtained a CITES export permit from France, but failed to apply for a $50 import permit from the Australian CITES Management Authority.

The bag, which had cost the woman $18,900, was destroyed by customs officials. The woman was not fined over the incident.

Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the incident should serve as a reminder to make sure CITIES permits are in place before importing any products derived from alligators or other protected animals.

"We all need to be aware of what we're purchasing online as restricting the trade of animal products is crucial to the long-term survival of endangered species," Ley told the Sydney Morning Herald.

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"Aside from the rules themselves, it is important that people take the time to think about ethical fashion choices."

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