Traveling to the 2014 Sochi Winter Games will be a once in a lifetime experience for many. U.S. Olympians and fans of Team USA may find themselves searching for a memento of their trip or a souvenir to share with those back home. 

Caviar is a staple of Russia’s food culture and can commonly be found on restaurant menus and in marketplaces. But, before you pick up a tin of caviar for everyone on your souvenir list, be sure that you know the law.

Only a small amount of certain types of caviar can be brought back into the U.S., and some are banned completely. Make sure that you adhere to international and U.S. laws, or you could risk that pricey caviar being taken from you. 

While caviar is likely to be the most widely available wildlife product, travelers to Russia may encounter other regulated wildlife products.

Keep the list below handy so that you know what products to avoid. And, remember, when in doubt — don’t buy!

Buyer Beware - Caviar (Photo: Javier D./Creative Commons)

Without a permit, you may only bring up to 125 grams (about 4.4 ounces) of sturgeon caviar back into the U.S. per person per trip, but the caviar of some species, like beluga, is completely prohibited. 

Buyer Beware - Furs (Photo: Peretz Partensky/Creative Commons)

Species used in the fur trade may be protected under domestic laws or international treaties. Know the laws before you buy and verify that you are purchasing a legally acquired item.

Don’t buy - Polar bear skins and products (Photo: Rudy Blossom/Creative Commons)

It is illegal to bring polar bear parts or products into the United States.

Don’t buy - Tiger skins and products

It is illegal to bring tiger skins or products, such as those used in folk or traditional medicine, as souvenirs or for “good luck” charms, into the United States.

Don’t buy - Snow leopard skins and products (Photo: Rob Brooks/Creative Commons)

Snow leopards are protected globally.  You may not bring snow leopard skins or products into the United States.

Don’t buy: Walrus ivory

Without a permit, it’s illegal to bring walrus ivory into the United States. Unless you already have a permit in hand, avoid purchasing any item made from ivory.

Don’t buy: Snowdrop bulbs (Photo: Vicky Brock/Creative Commons)

These popular garden bulbs—native to Turkey, Russia, and Georgia—can only be imported with the proper permits.  Avoid purchasing snowdrop bulbs, unless you already have a permit in hand. 

Illegal wildlife trade reduces economic, social and environmental benefits of wildlife, while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year.

Consumers have the power to stop this illegal trade by making informed decisions and helping us to spread the word.  

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    Aside from the flower bulbs, you’d also just be an asshole if you bought any of these things, issue with customs or not.
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    Image description: What Not to Bring Home from Sochi From U.S. Fish and Wildlife
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