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Congress Considers Potential Exotic Pet Ban

1 Comment Posted by Alyssa Noonan in Pet Law, What Your Clients Are Reading on Tuesday, April 21st, 2009.

Not all pets are cute and cuddly and sit in your lap, but pet owners love them just the same. Snakes, iguanas, birds, hamsters, fish and others are all popular pet choices, even though they can’t go for a walk in the park or come when you call. However, exotic pets may soon be scarce in the United States if Congress passes a proposed piece of legislation that would prevent “non-native” species from coming in to the U.S. and ban the sale, breeding and transporting of exotic pets in the country.

The bill, HR 669, is called the “Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Protection Act.” According to the text of the bill, its aim is to “prevent the introduction and establishment of nonnative wildlife species that negatively impact the economy, environment, or other animal species’ or human health, and for other purposes.” The overall goal of the bill is noble enough: stopping irresponsible pet owners from keeping dangerous pets and preventing non-native species from taking over local ecosystems. However, the language of the bill is vague, and this means that traditional pets like hamsters, aquarium fish, most species of birds, and reptiles could potentially be banned under the bill. As part of the bill, substantial scientific proof would have to be provided before a non-native animal could be imported into the U.S., bred or transported across state lines.

Under the current laws in place, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must demonstrate that a species can cause harm to humans, local ecosystems and the welfare of other wildlife resources in the U.S. If HR 669 is passed, the Fish and Wildlife Service would be required to create two lists—an “approved list,” for species judged as harmless, and an “unapproved list,” for species judged harmful. When examining the potential “negative impact” a species might pose, HR 669 judges the animal in the context of the whole country. For instance, a reptile species that might negatively impact the local ecosystem in southern Florida but nowhere else would nonetheless be banned throughout the country. Cats, dogs, farm animals and some rabbits are included in the list of species grandfathered in under the provisions of the bill. Other species would be required to undergo a rigorous screening process in order to prove they could not potentially have any sort of negative impact on their surroundings. Pet owners already caring for exotic pets would not have to give up their pets; however, the pets could not be sold or transported across state lines.

If passed, the bill will have a far-reaching impact on pet owners, breeders, veterinarians, pet supply retailers, and a number of other groups, including the New England Aquarium. Already, pet owners, have started to band together in opposition to HR 669. The website http://nohr669.com declared April 20 as “National NO HR 669 Call-In Day” and encouraged all animal lovers to call their Congressperson and declare opposition to the bill. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), a trade organization comprised of retailers, distributors, manufacturers, hobby groups and other animal-related businesses, has also mounted a strong opposition to HR 669.

How HR 669 will fare in Congress remains to be seen. The bill is under review by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife and a hearing is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 23. You can track the progress of the bill by clicking here.

1 Comment for Congress Considers Potential Exotic Pet Ban

pligg.com | May 7, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Congress considers potential exotic pet ban…

Not all pets are cute and cuddly and sit in your lap, but pet owners love them just the same. Snakes, iguanas, birds, hamsters, fish and others are all popular pet choices, even though they can’t go for a walk in the park or come when you call. Howev…

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