The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty to protect plant and animal species from unregulated international trade. CITES was formed in 1975 and currently has a membership of 152 countries. These countries act by banning commercial international trade in an agreed list of endangered species and by regulating and monitoring trade in others that might become endangered.
The CITES list of species is organized in three appendices:
- Appendix I species are rare or endangered, and trade will not be permitted for Primarily commercial purposes.
- Appendix II species are not rare or endangered at present but could become so if trade is not regulated.
- Appendix III species are not endangered but are managed within the listing nation.
Customs officials usually have a CITES species list that is consulted when plants or animals are declared (or discovered) at a port of entry. In the U.S., this is handled in cooperation the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.