H.R. 996, The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act

WHAT: H.R. 996, The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act of 2013 (“IFWP”)

Introduced by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY). Currently H.R. 996 has 28 co-sponsors, all Democrats.

Where: National

Legislative Prospects: H.R. 996 is essentially identical to H.R. 5864, a bill of the same name in the previous Congress that died last year with no action beyond referral to various committees.  This year’s version of the bill is very likely to meet the same fate. There is little chance this legislation will pass the U.S. House of Representatives or the House Natural Resources Committee. Even passage in the Democratically-controlled Senate is extremely unlikely.

Action: While the IFWP is not likely to become law in the next two years, it is not unusual for legislation to be introduced in multiple congresses over time before finally passing. Activists have and will continue to push for a “white list” approach to injurious designations (i.e., barring nonnative live wildlife until shown not harmful). All this means that the issue is not going away and efforts to impose greater restrictions on wildlife imports and commerce will continue.

USARK remains in regular contact with key committee staff and Members of Congress and is assured that, in the unlikely event that the bill moves through committee, we will have ample time to respond.

USARK encourages its members to weigh in on the bill using the process below.

Let’s “work smart” and show that USARK wants to be part of the solution and not the problem.  Let your voice be heard!

You can view an analysis of H.R. 996 here: http://usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013Legislative_Alert_HR996.pdf

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Send emails, letters and/or call the Natural Resources Committee. The process below will only take a few minutes and it will make a difference. NOTE: It is very important to be professional and civil when contacting legislators. Name-calling, swearing, etc. will only hurt our cause and hinder our progress.

Action 1: Contact the Natural Resources Committee at this link https://naturalresources.house.gov/contact/ and complete the form. You may copy/paste the below subject line and letter into the "Message" box of the form.

Action 2: Below is a link to contact your federal Representative. Simply click the link and enter your zip code. You will see your Representative’s information (you may need to narrow search with your address). You will see a small envelope next to your Representative’s picture that you can click to send an email (or you may visit the Representative’s website provided). Simply copy and paste the subject title and letter below and send it. http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Letter and Subject Title To Copy and Paste Below

Copy and paste below line for your subject:

NO on H.R. 996

Copy and paste below for your letter:

Dear Member of Congress,

H.R. 996 is a flawed approach for dealing with an important problem. While I support the goal of minimizing the potential economic and environmental risks from certain invasive species, a “one size fits all” approach is not the answer. The bill relies on a weak science standard that will result in unwarranted listings, putting jobs and livelihoods at risk for no real benefit to conservation or ecosystem protection. H.R. 996 will needlessly hurt many small, family-owned businesses that breed and engage responsibly in the reptile trade.

H.R. 996 allows a species to be listed simply on a showing it has harmed an ecosystem in a foreign country similar to an ecosystem in the United States. As a result, an entire domestic industry can be terminated based on localized harm to a unique location. The bill diminishes the due process rights of small businesses who will be impacted by potential listings.

H.R. 996 will adversely impact the $1.4 billion pet industry with no evidence that possession of nonnative snakes and reptiles have the potential to cause any widespread harm to ecosystems outside extreme southern Florida and Puerto Rico.  In each of these cases, the local governments have already responded and put safeguards in place. Congress should not use the blunt tool of banning interstate commerce of animals with a long history of successful pet ownership.

H.R. 996 requires FWS to recover 75% of the cost of its sweeping new duties, including screening and quarantining all foreign and domestic live wildlife for pathogens and parasites, by imposing a user fee on importers.  This fee will harm small businesses and, over time, will become increasingly onerous as more species are listed and its burden is borne by a smaller and smaller number of importers, retailers, breeders and others.

I ask Congress to leave long-established domestic businesses and responsible reptile keepers out of the line of fire. I implore you to vote NO on H.R. 996.