Important News Regarding Washington Fish & Wildlife Activities

Dear Acupuncturists and East Asian Medicine Practitioners,

WAEMA would like to bring the matter of endangered species to the attention of all of our practitioners in the state.  In 2015 initiative 1401 was passed in the state of Washington which makes it a FELONY to sell, purchase, trade or distribute parts of specific endangered or vulnerable species of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, shark or ray.

We have recently learned that two people have been charged with the trafficking of Ivory.  We have also recently learned that our practitioners are being randomly visited by Fish and Wildlife officers searching for any and all of the animal species listed above that may be in herbal products.

We have been in communication with Fish and Wildlife in regards to their policies and procedures in order that we, as a community, can best work with them and uphold the laws of our state.  WAEMA supports protecting endangered wildlife and supports the law passed by the voters of our state.

Because the laws of our state are stricter than National laws; please go through your herbal products and ensure that none of these species are included as a precautionary measure.  Also be aware that Fish and Wildlife officers have the right to “make a reasonable search without warrant of a vessel, conveyance, vehicles, containers, packages, or other receptacles for fish, seaweed, shellfish, and wildlife which they have reason to believe contain evidence of a violation of law…”  (RCW 77.15.094)

While Fish and Wildlife do have the right to come in and search someone’s office, we have made them aware of the sensitive nature of our business and that the patient’s welfare is top of mind with us and asking they be mindful when they do search one of our offices.   There are links to materials from Fish and Wildlife that you should familiarize with:

We will be discussing this matter further at our membership meeting on May 5th.   Please let us know if there are any questions or comments.  

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

The WAEMA Board

From WA Fish and Wildlife:

Traditional East Asian Medicine Operation WA-18-013832

Background and Operational Objective:Initiative I-1401 was passed by the voters of Washington and signed into law on December 3, 2015.  This initiative banned the sale, offering for sale, purchase, trade, barter, or distribution of covered animal species parts or products.  Covered animal species are defined as elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, shark, or ray either: (a) Listed in appendix I or appendix II of the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna; or (b) listed as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable on the international union for conservation of nature and natural resources red list of threatened species.  Violation of the statue, RCW 77.15.135 for any item below $250 is classified as a gross misdemeanor, whereas a violation of the statute for any item over $250 is classified as a Class C felony.  

Traditional East Asian Medicine, or TAMs, is a system of health care with thousands of years of history incorporated into its methodology. TAMs utilizes different plants, herbs, minerals, and animal components in its pharmacopeia to prevent and treat various medical ailments.  Despite a lack of evidence that proves success with many of these prescriptions, the use of certain ingredients persists.  The cultural and historical influence among those who practice and use TAMS has remained strong and even shows some signs of increasing among modern populations.  Unfortunately, this has led to a negative impact on the populations of many species of animals and fish that are frequently prescribed in TAMs.  

While many countries and worldwide organizations have sought to restrict, and even ban the use of some animals and fish products, the demand for these ingredients has risen and their price on the black markets of the world have skyrocketed.  Poachers seeking quick cash have decimated populations of several species of fish and wildlife around the globe in their efforts to provide the market with these ingredients. In addition to the already-prohibited list of fish and wildlife used in TAMs, several other fish and wildlife species can be legally used but are regulated in Washington State.

Washington State now, and for more than a century, boasts a large population of Asian individuals.  Their cultural influences are a rich and significant part of the fabric of Washington.   A large part of that cultural influence is in the form of the foods and medicinal traditions carried over to here.  So prolific is this influence that Washington State now has a training and licensing program for practitioners of Traditional East Asian Medicine, many of whom are not of Asian descent.  The license, provided by the Department of Health, requires that practitioners complete a schooling program, be fluent in English, and renew their license each year, among other requirements.  Interestingly, the Department of Health does not require a license for those prescribing medicine from TAMs’ traditional list of ingredients, nor does the federal Food and Drug Administration regulate that list of ingredients.  

This operation seeks to educate both WDFW Officers and our regulatory partners of the new I-1401 rules and to introduce them to the commonly seen fish and wildlife species prescribed in Traditional East Asian Medicine.  Further, it is the goal of this operation to provide that same information to merchants of TAMs ingredients and to ensure they are aware of existing statutes regarding the sale of fish and wildlife parts or products in Washington State. 

Operation Plan:

February 20, 2019

  • 0800-Training session at NOAA Sand Point Auditorium, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA.
  • 1000-Team assignments and form distribution
  • 1100-1700-Team breakout and inspections

February 21, 2019-Inspections

There will not be a debrief for this operation.


Use Emphasis IRF number WA-18-013832 for reports generated during this operation.  

All businesses and accompanying inspection IRFs are to be entered into the CODY RMS by the following Thursday, February 28, 2019. Any violation IRFs are to be documented per existing Department policy, adhering to the time requirements therein.

Any evidence seized during this operation will be handled in accordance with Department policies and procedures.

Hours are to be coded to JEA Master Index Code 29042.  JEA forms will be completed utilizing Execution Priority 4 IUU/International.


All WDFW personnel will have “Police” identifying-clothing available to respond to an emergency situation if necessary.  Personnel will rely on cell phone communication unless an emergency occurs.  All other patrol equipment is required, per policy.

The following equipment should be available to each team:

  • Still camera
  • Video camera
  • Evidence forms
  • Evidence collection bags
  • Multi-lingual informational brochures
  • Google Translate app

If you have any questions or concerns about these regulations, the actions of WA Fish and Wildlife, or what do to if they visit your clinic. Please send an email to and we will work to assist you in getting answers to your questions.