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ALERT: Lacey Act Amendment 2021

Aug 29, 2020
West Virginia, USA
Sorry for the long rant but this will affect all animal keepers.

Most information from ALERT: Lacey Act Amendment 2021 | USARK - United States Association of Reptile Keepers

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has introduced Senate Bill 626 (S626). This is a bill that would reverse the USARK federal lawsuit victory by reinstating the ban on interstate transportation of species listed as injurious under the Lacey Act. The bill would also create a “white list” (see #2 below). This goes far beyond large constrictor snakes. This will trickle down to hundreds or thousands of common pet species. Also note this may not pertain only to non-native species. FWS has already listed U.S. native species of salamanders as injurious.

Briefly, S626 will:

  1. Provide that the Lacey Act bans the interstate transport of species listed as injurious. Specifically, it replaces Lacey’s current language ‘‘shipment between the continental United States’’ with ‘‘transport between the States”;
  2. Create a “white list” of species that can be imported and shipped across state lines. This means that any animal (reptile, amphibian, fish, bird, mammal, invertebrate) that is not on the white list is by default treated as an injurious species and is banned from importation and interstate transport.
  3. Create a new authority allowing FWS to use an “emergency designation” that becomes effective immediately after being published in the Federal Register unless an extension of no more than 60 days is allowed. That means no due process, public input, hearings, advanced notice, etc. for injurious listings;
  4. Permit FWS to not allow importation if a species has not been imported in “minimal quantities” (to be defined) in the year prior to the enactment of this Act.
  5. The effective date would be one year after the enactment of this Act.
Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is a co-sponsor. S626 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

What you can do:

Donate or become a member of usark.org

  • For the best chance of influencing this bill, we need to write physical letters to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works and the 2 Senators representing your own state in the senate. It is up to you if you wish to write separate letters to the committee and the senators from your state, but I would advise 2 letters total (1 to the committee and 1 addressed to both of the senators from your state). If both of your senators are on the committee then you can obviously just write a single letter
Examples of things to say in letters

  • Mention what you do for a living or in your community if it is relevant to amphibians. If amphibians made a difference in your childhood, education, your children, community, etc., you could also mention this/these.
  • How a potential ban under the amended Lacey Act would affect you personally. For example, you wouldn’t be able to buy, sell or even send any captive bred offspring across state lines. Maybe you have kept newts and salamanders for 30 years and this would end your lifelong passion or prevent you from sharing it with your children, grandchildren, etc.
  • Lots of people rely on animals for jobs and they could loose their jobs because of this Act.
What NOT to do

  • Don't assume this will go away. It will almost certainly pass after it leaves the committee. All we can do is to try to influence the wording so that there will not be an outright ban on interstate transport and that there is oversight beyond USFWS of any proposed new rules under the amended Lacey Act.
  • Don't go on a rant in your letter(s)/phone calls, etc. An unreasoned argument will likely be ignored and you will come off as a crank.
  • Don't talk about personal freedoms or what your rights are or should be - there are valid concerns that have led to these legislative actions - all we can do is provide reasoned and reasonable opinions on how to address these concerns.

If this act passes It WILL certainly destroy our bug hobby along with the reptile and amphibian communities.

Lots of other forums have addressed this act and I think it’s important to say something.

Here is a list of US senators:

U.S. Senate: Contacting U.S. Senators

List of senators on the US Senate Committee for the Environment and Public Works (EPW)
Members - U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works