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.” The bill 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 an import “white list” (see #2 below) that could affect millions of pet owners, as well as pet businesses. This bill will affect owners of and businesses in reptiles, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals. This covers all types of animals.
Could your pet or species of interest (not just reptiles) potentially survive in southern Florida or any other location in the U.S.? Then it could be listed as injurious for just that reason! If this passes and your species of interest, even your pet, is listed as injurious, then it cannot be transported across state lines. That means you could not even take a pet with you if you moved to another state or needed veterinary care across a state border. This does not just ban sales but prohibits all interstate transportation and importation into the U.S. This will trickle down to hundreds or thousands of common pet species.
Briefly, the amendments will:
- 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.”
- Create a “white list” of species that can be imported. This means that any animal (reptile, amphibian, fish, bird, mammal) that is not on the white list is by default treated as potentially injurious and is banned from importation.
- 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.
- 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.
- The effective date would be one year after the enactment of this Act.
Read the bill text at https://usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/23-Lacey-Rubio.pdf.
We have an extensive FAQ posted at https://usark.org/23laceyfaq/.
We will provide more details on actions to take. No bill number has been assigned yet.
In our landmark court decision, four federal judges agreed that USARK was correct and that the Lacey Act (Title 18 Section 42 of the U.S. Code) did not ban interstate transportation of injurious species based on the original language of the Lacey Act and the intent of Congress. As a result of this fight for our members and the herpetocultural community, this meant animals domestically bred under human care could be moved and sold across state lines (within the continental United States). For herpetoculturists’ concerns, this included some species of constrictor snakes and 201 species of salamanders.