Gecko Haven fully supports USARK. We have donated animals, funds and our time to this organization.
We are also a paid member.
USARK is the one and only voice we as reptile keepers and breeders have.
Without them we will lose our ability to keep these wonderful creatures.
Help us help USARK.
May 17 2023
ALERT: Lacey Act Amendments
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has again introduced a short-sighted bill to amend the Lacey Act, with the title ‘‘Lacey Act Amendments of 2023,’’ in this 118th session of Congress. This is the same bill we saw from Rubio as S626 in 2021.
This bill would reverse the USARK federal lawsuit victory by reinstating the ban on interstate transportation of species listed as injurious under the Lacey Act, among other things including creating an import “white list." This will trickle down to hundreds or thousands of common pet species.
Find more details at https://usark.org/23lacey/. We will be updating this alert. No number has yet been assigned to the bill.
LACEY ACT AMENDMENTS IN COMPETES ACT OF 2021 (H.R.4521) THREATEN U.S. PET CARE COMMUNITY
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2022
- TAKE ACTION AND CONTACT YOUR SENATOR TODAY WITH THESE TALKING POINTS
- DOWNLOAD THIS ISSUE SUMMARY
- DOWNLOAD FACT SHEET ON COMPETES ACT AMENDMENTS IMPACTING LACEY
Amendments to the Lacey Act included in the COMPETES Act of 2021 (H.R.4521) legislation would make changes to the Lacey Act that would negatively impact the broader pet care community.
These amendments are alarming for the pet care community because they:
- Expand the authority of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent interstate transport between states in the continental U.S. of species listed as injurious.
- Create a whitelist of approved species that can be imported, where any animal not listed is treated as an injurious species by default and banned from importation into the U.S.
- Grant the Secretary of the Interior powers to use an "emergency declaration" to prohibit importation of a species found to be injurious to humans, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wildlife, or wildlife resources for up to 3 years. The "emergency declaration" would be effective immediately on publication in the Federal Register, unless extended up to 60 days.
How we got here:
- MAR 9, 2021 - S.626 was introduced with language that would amend the current Lacey Act. This bill is in Committee in the Senate and awaiting a hearing.
- JUN 8, 2021 - Senate passes S.1260, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) with the intention of boosting US economic competitiveness with China.
- JAN 25, 2022 - House introduces COMPETES Act (H.R.4521) as their "response" to USICA and includes many unrelated amendments. Legislative language from S.626 impacting the Lacey Act was added to the COMPETES Act along with several other amendments creating a larger omnibus bill. The amendments did not have an opportunity for a full debate in different committees before being sent to the House floor for a vote and passage.
- FEB 4, 2022 - The House passes COMPETES Act along party lines with few exceptions, and the bill is now in the Senate where they will decide on whether to reconcile the two bills or take up the COMPETES Act.
Current status of COMPETES Act with amendments impacting Lacey:
The COMPETES Act is now in the Senate after passing the House on February 4, 2022. It remains unclear (as of February 8) whether the Senate will take up the House bill or opt to reconcile with their own bill that passed the Senate this past summer, USICA (S. 1260). Once the Senate makes its intentions clear, it will be much clearer where constituents in the pet care community can direct their emails, phone calls, and comments opposing amendments to the Lacey Act included in the COMPETES Act.
PIJAC is preparing for either eventuality and will issue an urgent call to action as soon as it is appropriate. Please be on the lookout for our email alert which will go out to our full membership and respond to it immediately as time will be of the essence.
If you are not yet a member of PIJAC and want to receive the action alert as well as be notified of updates on this and other legislation that could impact your pet business, please become a member today at pijac.org/join or email us at email@example.com.
Florida and other states are fighting huge battles.
Texas House Bill 2326 (HB2326) will add the Burmese python to the large constrictor snake species currently regulated by the Texas Park and Wildlife Commission. Note the next paragraph for the explanation. It adds any hybrid of the listed species. The new law will be effective on September 21, 2021, if the bill passes. The bill would allow for the penalty of a Class B Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor for a second offense. Lastly, the current law is amended and makes it illegal to release any nonindigenous snake, not just the species listed. No keeper should ever release any species of non-native animal into the wild!
This is being done as an update on the scientific classification of this species. The current law includes Python molurus. This species previously included both the Indian python and the Burmese python as they were subspecies of Python molurus. They have been elevated to full species. So, Burmese pythons were originally included and TP&W is just updating the regulation to match the scientific classification.
Below is the list of species included in the regulation that requires a TP&W permit. There are two permits available: one for possession and one for commercial business This is already law! The bill just adds the Burmese python and hybrids to the list. Bold text is the new language:
(a) The commission by rule shall establish permits that allow permit holders to possess or transport in this state a live nonindigenous snake, including a hybrid of any kind, that is:
(1) venomous; or
(2) constrictor that is one of the following:
(A) African rock python, Python sebae;
(B) Asiatic rock python, Python molurus;
(C) Burmese python, Python bivittatus;
(D) green anaconda, Eunectes murinus;
(E) reticulated python, Python reticulatus; or
(F) southern African python, Python natalensis.
The bill also adds this text:
(c) If it is shown at the trial of the defendant for a violation of this subchapter or a rule adopted under this subchapter that the defendant has engaged in a commercial activity without holding a required permit and the defendant has been previously convicted of a violation of this subchapter or a rule adopted under this subchapter, on conviction the defendant shall be punished for a Class B Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor.
Find full bill details at https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=HB2326.
If you are unaware of the current law, you can find all of the information at https://tpwd.texas.gov/faq/business/permits/nonindigenous_snakes/index.phtml.
Find all information for the Florida ban on the USARK Florida website at the below links:
FWC finally posted the link for the virtual meeting this evening (2/24). Find that and all details on how to voice your opposition to the Commissioners at this link: https://www.usarkfl.org/rulemaking-update-3
Time/Date: Thursday, February 25 at 9:00 AM Eastern Time
Additional details on the ban at https://www.usarkfl.org/rulemaking-update-2.
FWC has posted the agenda for the next Commission meeting on February 25-26. This will be another virtual meeting. The listing of 16 species of non-native reptiles (tegus, green iguanas, current Conditional reptile species including reticulated pythons and others) as Prohibited Species is first on the agenda (after the usual formalities) for Thursday, February 25.
Herpetoculturists can oppose the ban during the comment period following Staff’s presentation. We need LOTS of herpetoculturists to be on the line. This goes beyond the 16 species to be banned. We need a strong showing or we will likely be facing broad bans affecting many more keepers and breeders.
FWC has posted its draft rules, presentation, and summary memo on the agenda.
See the #5 on the agenda for draft rules at https://myfwc.com/about/commission/commission-meetings/february-2021/.
Since 2010, the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) has been working to oppose the listing of constrictor snakes under the Lacey Act and laying the legal groundwork for a possible challenge to any listing. Efforts to date include commissioning Georgetown Economic Services to document an economic impact study of the reptile industry and engaging the services of Kelley Drye as our legal and legislative consultants. Kelley Drye is the leading law firm in Washington D.C. in regards to the very specialized challenges that lay ahead of us, specifically due to their expertise in issues that potentially involve challenging adverse regulatory decisions and defending our rights. This process has involved detailed legal analyses as well as numerous meetings with officials in Washington D.C. where the foundations for placing us in the strongest possible position were laid.
Having notified the USFWS in April of our legal and public policy concerns over both the listed and pending species, we have determined that the time is right to formally challenge the rule.
In order to fully implement our legal strategy, the USARK Board of Directors has announced creation of a legal defense fund and issued a call to members for contributions. Contributions can be made at http://usark.org/reptile-defense-fund-2/.
This battle will be expensive and we must begin to secure funding immediately. USARK appreciates all donations and additional fundraising efforts. This fight and our continued battle against anti-reptile legislation would not be possible without your support. More details will be provided as they can be made public.
You can also mail checks made out to USARK to:USARK Reptile Defense Fund3650 Sacramento DriveSan Luis Obispo, CA 93401The auction that was held from 12/12/13-12/15/13 raised a total of $41,156 !! That is auction and auction donations made in cash. That is an outstanding amount considering it was planned and executed within days! There is going to be another auction in Jan. 2014. Watch our page or go to USARK's page for details. 12/19/13
From Tom Crutchfield- Folks it's time to step up to the plate and make damn sure your children get to live their dreams also......USARK has filed a LAWSUIT against USFWS.......This is a landmark case as it's the FIRST time the herp community has sought civil relief from regulations resulting from politically motivated "scientists" & special interest groups such as HSUS...We are saying as one voice HELL NO!!! It is time and many thanks to ALL YOU HERPERS OUT THERE for making this possible....We can expect a long expensive battle...Please everyone give what you can to USARK even if just $5......THANKS From USARK Website!
What an amazing accomplishment for the Reptile Nation!
Briefly, the U.S. Court of Appeals determined that, as a matter of law, USARK got it right – the Lacey Act does not prohibit transportation and commerce of species listed as injurious between the continental states. This means the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) can’t restrict the commerce and transportation of species listed as injurious within the 49 continental states (excluding the District of Columbia). In other words, shipments from Indiana to Texas, for example, will not be restricted at the federal level. The issue is now settled in the eyes of the Court.
Before going further, we must proclaim huge thanks to Shaun Gehan, Joan Galvin, Richard Stanley, members of our legal team at Kelley Drye in Washington, D.C. including David Frulla, our members, the USARK Board of Directors, fundraising coordinators (especially RAACA and NARBC), supporters, donors and everyone else who made this possible. This is indeed just a short list and is not all-inclusive. Please know that USARK is very aware of those who actually contributed to the battle. You are all greatly appreciated!
Yet another tremendous milestone in USARK’s history!
Shaun Gehan, the lead attorney and chief architect behind the lawsuit, stated: “When Phil Goss and his able USARK legal aids first met with us to discuss going forward with the challenge to the Lacey listings, we felt we had a very special opportunity to make legal history. We knew our case was compelling and the research bore out our hunch that USFWS had misapplied Lacey. The fact that the Judge was so clear in his ruling only reinforces what we knew to be true.”
USARK’s federal legal and legislative consultant, Joan Galvin, had this to declare: “Congratulations to USARK and Phil Goss for their leadership and faith in our legal team to invest in and make possible this landmark legal victory for USARK's members. Shaun Gehan's theory of the case proved to be incredibly compelling to the court and we have him, along with the Kelley Drye legal team, to thank for reversing the government's misapplication of the Lacey Act.”
USFWS only started expanding its reading of the law in the 1980s, decades after Congress added the language at issue in USARK’s case. Just as in the two constricting snake listings USARK challenged, USFWS then started dropping the phrase “continental United States” from the introductory portions of its listing decisions. In its place, the agency simply applied the transportation and commerce restriction between all states. On April 7, 2017, the Court put an end to that, noting that Congress spoke clearly as to the limitations that attach when a species is determined to be injurious.
Read the court document at www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/USARK-Lawsuit-Appeals-Mem-Op.pdf.
First, we do ask that you rely upon information and updates provided by USARK, as unfortunately there is misinformation being posted by people and groups not directly affiliated with USARK in attempts at self-promotion.
One point is very clear! The Court has made its decision and it agreed with USARK! There are still some loose ends to tie up with the preliminary injunction. As you will recall, the lower court’s order applied only to reticulated pythons and green anacondas, and forbade shipments into Florida and Texas. USARK’s attorneys will ask the Court to lift that order, and make the more recent order immediately effective.
In addition, and as a general matter, a court will stay its order until the time has lapsed for the government to file an appeal or seek reconsideration of a decision. In the interim, our legal team advises that USARK members postpone any shipments or other related business decisions until the lower court’s order is lifted and the ruling is broadly applied. USARK will provide updates on these concerns.
We should mention, however, that requests for a rehearing and petitions for appeal to the Supreme Court are rarely granted. Further, this was a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel that affirmed the decision of the trial court judge. Chances of a successful appeal, or the government appealing at all, appear very remote.
While the Court has stated their ruling quite bluntly, we do ask that the Reptile Nation await the final go-ahead from USARK before shipping species listed as injurious. USARK members who have been shipping reticulated pythons and green anacondas for the last two years following our awarded injunctive relief may certainly continue to do so.
Note that this ruling will not nullify any local or state laws regarding these species. Also, importation into the U.S. of species listed as injurious is still prohibited under the Lacey Act.
Thank you again to all those who made this possible. USARK has had many victories outside of this federal battle and has completed a great amount of work on other issues. None of our incredible accomplishments over the last few years would have been possible without your support.
Donate to the Reptile Defense Fund
Information for making donations online and via check/money order can be found at www.usark.org/reptile-defense-fund-2/. You can make one-time, weekly, monthly or annual donations. You can also include a message that will be posted on the Legal Defense Fund Donor Wall at www.usark.org/usark-announcement/reptile-defense-donor-wall/ for all to see, or you can even choose to make your donation or donation amount anonymous. Thanks for your support as we protect the freedoms of the Reptile Nation against overreaching anti-herp legislation and battle the animal rights groups working to remove all animals from our lives