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Falls Church Supermarket Headed to Court for Selling Live Animals

Two managers from Great Wall face felony charges for selling the live animals to customers.

The battle between a Falls Church grocery store and a group of conservationists will play out in a Fairfax County court Friday.

Kai Wei Jin, one of the two managers, have been charged under a Virginia law that aims to protect native species by stemming poaching of wild animals for valuable meat, pelts and antlers, according to the Washington Post.

Conservationists seized live seafood from Great Wall in 2011 including bullfrogs, crayfish and swamp eel. Those animals seized at Great Wall were not endangered, but many are banned from sale because they are classified as wildlife, according to the Washington Post. A long undercover sting led to the seizure from the supermarket.

Jin said the animals on sale were not taken from local streams and forests but were farm-raised.

Jin’s lawyer, Shaoming Cheng, said Chinese people like to eat yellow eels as part of their traditional diet like Russians eating fish eggs, according to the Washington Post.

According to the Washington Post, an undercover agent bought seven largemouth bass for $104.31 and 10 red-eared slider turtles for $100 on March 2, 2011 and two days later bought more largemouth bass. The same agent went back and made more purchases about two weeks later.

Virginia largely bans the sale of wildlife, according to the Washington Post and there are exceptions for permitted activities such as stocking ponds with game fish and selling some animals — including crayfish and bullfrogs — for food. The state defines wild animals as any creature that is not on a list of domestic animals, which include cows, chickens, guinea pigs, rats, llamas and a number of other species but not the eels and turtles sold by Great Wall, according to the Washington Post.

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