Action Alert: Arkansas

Meeting: June 21, 2018 at 10:00 AM

AGFC Headquarters
2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, AR 72205

Subject: Suspension of import permits and review/amending of wildlife regulations

Summary: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) Director and staff are recommending that the Commission temporarily (120 days) suspend issuing any Wildlife Importation Permits (except for accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and/or Wildlife Breeder/Dealer Permits for wildlife species that are venomous or poisonous until further notice.

Note that there are three separate issues:

1. Suspension of Wildlife Importation for Venomous or Poisonous Wildlife Species;
2. Suspension of Wildlife Breeder/Dealer Permits for Venomous or Poisonous Wildlife Species;
3. A review and rewriting of the current “captive wildlife” laws in Arkansas regarding venomous and poisonous species (with potential for regulations regarding other species to be amended soon following).

“Commission captive wildlife regulations apply to all species of wildlife including exotic animals not native to Arkansas. A Wildlife Importation Permit is required to bring all species of wildlife into the state. A Wildlife Breeder/Dealer Permit is required to breed or sell wild animals, including exotic species. The only species exempt from these requirements are Buffalo, Emu, Llama, Muscovy duck, European domestic ferret, Hamster, Guinea pig, Ringneck dove, Gerbils, common white mice and common white rats, and Wolf/Dog hybrids.”- via https://www.agfc.com/en/resources/wildlife-conservation/captive-wildlife/#52748

LINK to AGFC minute order: www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Arkansas-Wildlife-Review-2018.pdf

How the Commission Works

AGFC staff must present their rulemaking proposals to the governor-appointed commissioners at public meetings. The commissioners will approve or deny the proposals after receiving all input or may advise AGFC to take a different direction. Basically, the commissioners act as a Board of Directors.

How to Contact the Commission

Email through their website at www.agfc.com/en/about-agfc/contact-agfc/.

Email list: Steve.Cook@agfc.ar.gov, Ford.Overton@agfc.ar.gov, Ken.Reeves@agfc.ar.gov,
Andrew.Parker@agfc.ar.gov, Joe.Morgan@agfc.ar.gov, Bobby.Martin@agfc.ar.gov, Stan.Jones@agfc.ar.gov,
Steven.Beaupre@agfc.ar.gov, Pat.Fitts@agfc.ar.gov, Caroline.Cone@agfc.ar.gov, Chris.Colclasure@agfc.ar.gov

Governor Hutchinson website contact portal: www.governor.arkansas.gov/contact-info
Governor email: info@governor.arkansas.gov
SENDING EMAILS INDIVIDUALLY, rather than to all in one email, is preferred.
Full contact info for Commissioners: www.agfc.com/en/about-agfc/commissioners/
Full contact info for Directors: www.agfc.com/en/about-agfc/staff/

Phone calls, as well as emails, are important to get the attention of the commissioners. Snippets from the below sample message can be used during phone calls.

Sample Messaging: Remember to be civil and professional.

Email DEADLINE: June 20 @ 4:30 PM

Please personalize/edit to fully address your concerns.

Sample subject lines:

  1. Rule amendments MUST include stakeholders!
  2. NO to overreaching wildlife regulation!
  3. Common sense rule amendments, not overreach.
  4. AGFC must work with stakeholders, not against them.

Sample Letter

Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioners,

As an Arkansas resident and responsible reptile keeper, I am contacting you to be sure that my voice is heard. As a reptile keeper, I am a stakeholder who is affected by the actions of the Commission.

I would like to express my concern regarding the Commission's request to amend the wildlife regulations regarding venomous and poisonous reptiles. Are they going to work with stakeholders? Who are the experts they will be consulting? Why is there a sudden need for an "emergency" order suspending importation permits of these species while the Commission works to amend the rules?

I do hope that you, as governor-appointed commissioners, have the insight to direct the Commission to work with stakeholders and legitimate subject matter experts who actually work with these species while amending these rules. It is certain that responsible reptile keepers will be accepting of common sense changes. However, over-regulation or bans will lead to unintended consequences.

Bans and draconian laws simply do not work and they are the greatest examples of government overreach. "Just ban it!" It may seem the easiest thing to do for regulators, but it is also the least American. It only makes sense for the Commission to utilize workshops incorporating stakeholders during this process. Excluding them only demonstrates a pre-determined outcome and an agenda to have government in our living rooms and nanny stating. I would hope for better in my Arkansas!

It must also be noted that while Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities are excluded, it is often private keepers who work as the animal husbandry experts at these facilities. Accredited zoos also often buy animals bred by private keepers. The importance of the private sector must be recognized by the Commission. They play a part in conservation, education, and public outreach just as zoos do. While not dismissing the important role of zoos, private keepers have played crucial roles to understanding the biology and husbandry of many species.

Please do what is right for my state, the affected animal keepers, and the animals by directing the Commission appropriately. Thank you for your time and have a good day.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

Article written by USARK