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Write your congressmen now...

tjudy

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
On April 23 a bill will be heard by the House Natural Resource Committee that has the potential to kill the pet trade, especially the aquarium hobby. H.R. 669 calls for the total stoppage of all interstate traffic of non-native wildlife, including animals and plants. (see more info: http://www.pijac.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=175) That means nothing can be imported into the country, nor transported across state lines. It calls for the USWFS to produce an approved list of plants and animals that could be transported based upon a detailed assessment of the possible harm the species could have ANYWHERE in the USA or its territories. That means that an tropical fish that could not in in Wisconsin would has to be assessed as though our state were as warm as Hawaii or Florida.... or even Puerto Rico or Guam! Right now the legislation is in the very early stages of its path through the House of Representatives, but do not be lulled into complacency. This is an addendum to the Lacey Act, so it is not as difficult to pass as a full law would be. Right your House of Representatives congressman ASAP, and also write our senators. This is easy to do. All reps have websites with the opportunity to write a quick letter:

http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml#wi (this site will help you find your rep)

Your senators will have websites with URL in this pattern:

http://yoursenatorslastnamehere.senate.gov/


Here is a copy of the letter I sent to all of mine. Copy and paste it if you want to, or write your own.

Dear _________

Here is an excerpt from an advisory notice sent to me from Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) concerning HR669.

"THE ISSUE
The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act (H.R. 669), introduced by Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) Chair of the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife of the House Natural Resources Committee would totally revamp how nonnative species are regulated under the Lacey Act.

Currently, the Fish and Wildlife Service is required to demonstrate that a species is injurious [harmful] to health and welfare of humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture or forestry, and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources of the U.S.

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, HR 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."

Beyond the pet trade a law like this would have a far reaching negative affect in the food, medical, research and transportation industries. It would also make the job of USFWS Law Enforcement harder to do. The task of creating an approved list would be monumentally time consuming and expensive. For example, there are thousands of aquarium fish and invertebrate species that would have to be on the approved list if the industry were to survive.

Please consider the negative effect HR669 would have on our economy.

Sincerely,
 

georgedv

Member
5 Year Member
Hi Ted,

What will they take from us next?

I have a question. When addressing congressmen & senators....is it proper to say it:

Dear Congressman NAME.......Dear Senato NAME.

Thanks


g
 

tjudy

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
I used 'Dear Representative NAME' and 'Dear Senator NAME'...

What kills me is that this change to the Lacey Act is being proposed by a nonvoting delegate from the island of Guam....
 

Gillie

Member
5 Year Member
This bill has to be the biggest load that I have ever seen. I have seen petitions on the counter of every pet store I've been in(and I sign everyone). Michigan may be in a huge economic hole, but our stores are still full, take that away and who knows what'll happen.
 

james595

Member
5 Year Member
The trouble is where do you draw the line. This ban would also ban the interstate traffic of non-native humans, as we have no more right than an apistogram from Brazil to be here. After all people are the most destructive invaisve exotic species on the planet. It is very unfortunate when the human induced release of exotic species occurs, which can result in the extinction of other species. However, this bill approaches the issue the wrong way, by banning everything until it is approved by some ridiculous process that relies on hypothetical scenarios of the animal getting out.

Any trafficing of exotic organisms should be strickly regulated as people in general can not handle the responsibility of containing them and they will get out into the environment. I think the current method of banning species once they have caused serious environmental damage is flawed. Perhaps they could implement a screening program to assess the invasive potential of any given species, and from there determine if it should be banned. In this system everything would still be fair game to transport, until they identified it as invasive.
 

tjudy

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
HR669 is dead! The letter writing campaign worked. The committee told the representative from Guam that she would have to rewrite the bill if she wanted to resubmit it. The reptile groups really went after this one. Here is a link to one group that generated, and delivered, 38,000 letters to the committee: http://usark.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=26

Thank you everyone who contacted their representatives. Also thank you PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Counsel... government watchdog and lobbyist group for the pet industry) for their diligence and timely announcement of this bill. Without PIJAC the pet industry would be blindsided by bills like HR669.
 

Anubias Design

New Member
Staff member
5 Year Member
HR 669 dead?

Hey Folks,
I disagree with the view that this is dead. I watched the hearing, too, and my take is that there are clearly enough votes for the bill, even without changes, to get it out of committee. I think the sponsors have probably gotten the message that the bill has problems and getting it through the house, let alone the senate, will be difficult. Consequently, I think the best we can hope for is that they reevaluate the bill and make significant changes to it before resubmitting it. And you know it will be resubmitted. Rather than concentrating on what the witnesses opposed to the bill say in the hearing, it's important to pay attention to the questions being asked. News reports I've seen, and I mean real news reports, not hobby blogs, showed very clearly that this isn't dead. The quotes in those pieces were generally from Bordallo and spokespeople from the HSUS. They're saying that people are overreacting and that this will not affect their pets. During the hearing, the bill's sponsors were praising the Australian system as one we should emulate. Talk to fish folks in Australia, guys. They have a hard time getting anything there and probably have a bigger problem with invasives than the US. In the same paragraph with praising the Australian system, sponsors of the bill were saying this would not affect pets and people shouldn't overreact. Follow the money, folks. The money is with the 'animal rights' activists. They're the ones who get the big donations and the ones who can contribute to these congressman. PIJAC, our sole voice for the pet trade has had funding issues for years. We should all join PIJAC. That will help significantly.
Mark
 

tjudy

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Thanks for the update Mark. I have no doubt a bill looking to do something similar to HR669 will find its way back to the committee. HR669 is not the first bill of its kind. Though the animal rights lobbyists are involved and supplying a lot of the money/pressure, the more legitimate threat is coming from the environmentalists. The premise for needing this legislation is to combat invasive species. With the damage done by invasive species, and the cost of managing them so well documented, our legislators are being pressured from two important positions. There is no win-win for them. Using an extreme example, banning interstate transport of non-natives will help alleviate invasive species but kill the pet trade. Not controlling non-natives increases the risk of paying for invasive control but will not affect the pet trade. The two needs are counter productive. Is there a compromise? Probably not one that either side will be happy with.

We are preaching to the choir about the dangers of invasive species. I an sure that nobody on this forum would ever toss their unwanted pacu in a local pond. However, where there is smoke there is fire. It is not a coincidence that most of the invasive fish, reptile, mammal and bird species in the warmer areas of the USA are the same species that we like to keep in our hobbies. The hobby itself may be its own worst enemy.
 

DravenXavier

New Member
5 Year Member
There were a lot of things about that hearing that I didn't like. The most obvious, to me, was that although this bill is targeting the pet trade, nearly all of the invasive species mentioned were NOT released through the pet trade. I heard lionfish, apple snails, and snakeheads (which were partly released for the food trade anyway, with Asian markets paying good prices for them) for the pet trade.

I also don't think that the majority of the people writing with concerns were worried about pets they already have. I'm sure there were plenty of them, but I think we all know that this will affect pets people are looking to acquire. And unlike what was said, I think the majority of us hobbyists are not just looking for "a fish" or "a snake" or something like that...we want something particular. I can't speak for anyone else, but if I can't get a fish I specifically want, I'm not just going to go out and buy some guppies or goldfish, just to have a fish. I would rather leave the hobby.

Though i think those people who do already have pets, especially exotics, but dogs and cats as well, will find it harder to provide for their animals as stores close down, and prices are raised to make up for income lost in the exotic animal trade. A lot of what a pet store brings in is in dog/cat food, and there is very, very little markup on it, while livestock will normally have the highest markups...without the livestock, that money has to come from somewhere.

There are also a lot of things that are not made clear in this bill. Assuming that we're going to be running this list on latin names, and not common names, how will they address undescribed species, such as many of the plecos, corydoras, and algae-eating shrimp. It's not that they're rare, or even uncommon, just science hasn't gotten around to them yet. Or what would happen when a species is given a different taxonomic designation? It happens constantly. Who will be keeping up with keeping the list current? A species that is legal one day may not be legal the next, unless importers/exporters, wholesalers, retailers, etc. simply continue to use obsolete names.

However, I think that the biggest problem is education, and that's what needs to be addressed. People release animals not necessarily because they have no other options, but because they think it's ok, or they think they're giving it a better life by setting it free. I think that some nationwide mandatory education material, perhaps even fee-based programs, need to be considered. Perhaps a list of possibly invasive species requiring a "hobbyist" permit to buy...simply show your permit at time of purchase. Or maybe mandatory handouts and signage, such as necessary in many places in stores that sell turtles, warning of salmonella. There are a lot of ways we can handle this without adopting a "guilty until proven innocent" blanket ban.
 
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