Friday, April 17, 2009

Q&A with Keith, 4/17/09


QUESTION
Is it true that the United States government is discussing a ban on wild imported animals, including marine or saltwater fish?

ANSWER
There is presently a bill on the table some are hoping will pass, although this is nothing new as similar bills have been proposed many times in the past. Of course, if this bill were to pass, it would send shock waves that ripple throughout the pet industry. For people who sell livestock (from reptiles and birds to fish), the import of many animal species would cease entirely. The result would be the closure of many businesses and that ripple effect would impact thousands of pet owners and stores.

Here is the jist of the bill (from a posting by the president of the Connecticut Area Reef Society on a message board):

The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act (H.R. 669). This bill is looking to completely revamp how nonnative species are handled under The Lacy Act.

HR 669 substantially complicates that process by compelling the Service to produce two lists after conducting a risk assessment for each nonnative wildlife species to determine if it is likely to “cause economic or environmental harm or harm to other animal species’ health or human health.” In order to be placed on the “Approved List” it must be established that the species has not, or is not likely, to cause “harm” anywhere in the US . Species that are considered potentially harmful would be placed on an “Unapproved List.” Furthermore, H.R. 669 would essentially ban all species that do not appear on the Approved List, regardless of whether or not they have ever been petitioned for listing or are sufficiently well studied to enable a listing determination.

Species not appearing on the “Approved List” could not be imported into the United States ; therefore, all unapproved nonnative species could not be moved interstate. In addition, trade in all such unlisted species would come to a halt – possession would be limited and all breeding would cease. Unless those species are included on the approved list import, export, transport, and breeding would be prohibited. Exceptions are limited and would not be available to pet owners across the nation

Nonnative species in the pet trade encompass virtually every bird, reptile, fish, coral and a number of mammals (e.g., hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets) commonly kept as pets. How would you like not being able to find a Purple Tang at your local store - or even worse, not be able to sell the one you have.

H.R. 669 would employ a 2-step process of a Preliminary and a Final Approved List along with the Services having to promulgate regulations not only to deal with creation of the lists but also regulating all aspects of this rather complex bill. The Service would have to complete major portions of the list and regulation process within 24 months of passage. Imagine how the Service will be able to conduct the required risk assessment outlined in HR 669 within these time frames when it takes on average 4 years for the Service to find a species harmful under the current Lacey Act. The bill sets up the under-resourced Service for failure and numerous lawsuits by activist groups.

A HEARING has been scheduled for April 23 and your local pet stores need to be heard loud and clear prior to the hearing. I encourage everyone to contact your local Representative and tell them "NO to H.R. 669".

You can find your representatives by going to
List of House Reps . Type your zip code plus the 4 digit number after your zip code if you are not sure who represents you in your area.

Please visit
PIJAC frequently for more information.

Will this bill pass? Most pet stores and pet owners do not feel it will, but by contacting your local representative, you can help assure it doesn't.

If there is anything else we can answer for you, just let us know.

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