HR6362 has been introduced and is titled the “Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act of 2018.” The bill was introduced by Representative Elise Stefanik and there were no cosponsors upon introduction. A companion bill, S3210, was introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. It also had no cosponsors upon introduction. These bills are yet another flawed approach for dealing with the problem of invasive species.
These bills would, for all practical purposes, nullify USARK’s victory in its lawsuit which determined that most interstate transportation of species listed as injurious under the Lacey Act was not prohibited, as ruled by four federal judges. It is clear that those who disagree with the federal courts and their ruling are behind these bills. The bills do much more than ban interstate transportation and we have broken down the highlights below.
The bills repeal the current Lacey Act provisions dealing with injurious species, replacing them with a much more expansive regulatory system. If adopted into law, all species currently listed as injurious under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42) would be automatically listed under this new Act (including 201 species of salamanders and nine species of constrictor snakes). Moreover, the Act creates new, lower standards for listing new species. The law would also require the Secretary of the Interior to consider all species “not in trade” – based on regulations the Interior Department would develop – for listing within three years.
USARK is adamantly opposed to these bills for many reasons. Not only is it a supreme example of government overreach, but this and similar actions on the issue of injurious and invasive species will lead to many unintended consequences.
USARK will provide relevant updates as they become available.
LINK to HR63626 bill text: www.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/HR6362-2018.pdf
LINK to S3210 bill text: www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/S3210-Invasive-Species-Bill-2018.pdf
There is a history to this Act. USARK reported on prior versions which included both HR5895 (introduced by Representative Louise Slaughter) and S3278 (introduced by Senator Kristen Gillibrand) in 2016. Read that post at www.usark.org/2016-blog/invasive-fish-and-wildlife-prevention-act-of-2016/. A similar bill was also introduced in 2013 as HR996. Read more on that bill at www.usark.org/press-releases/h-r-996-the-invasive-fish-and-wildlife-prevention-act/. The original version dates back to HR5864 and its Senate companion S3606 from the 112th Congress.
What the bills do (in plain language):
- Makes illegal the transportation of injurious species between states: “it is unlawful for any person… to import into the United States or transport between States any wildlife designated as an injurious wildlife…”
- Creates a list of species which are “not in trade” and those species cannot be imported or transported between states unless or until they are reviewed by the Secretary;
- Ambiguously defines “not in trade” species as those non-native species that are not “widely” imported or transported between states (i.e. no definition for the word widely) within the past year;
- Within three years from the effective date, a list of all ‘‘wildlife not in trade to the United States’’ must be compiled and that list reviewed to see if any of those species should be designated as injurious;
- Allows for an immediately effective emergency rule to add species as injurious;
- Requires the establishment of an electronic database for imports of all wildlife which identifies injurious species;
- States that the Secretary of the Interior possesses authority to regulate wildlife pathogens and parasites (i.e. Bsal) which currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA);
- Makes less burdensome (easier) the listing of species as injurious;
- Creates the “Injurious Wildlife Prevention Fund” funded by a new “user fee” (i.e., tax) on wildlife imports.
The bills would not ban the possession of species designated as injurious (contrary to the misinformation sent to us by a member who read it online). They will, however, ban their possession if it occurred in violation to this Act after its effective date. Basically, it is not retroactive (so ownership is grandfathered) and activities within any state would remain legal, unless in violation of state or local law. Nonetheless, that does not make this Act acceptable in any sense.
Also contrary to what some may have been told, this is not the creation of a white list, or a limited list of species which can be imported and/or transported across state lines. The bills do not do what HR669 would have done in 2009 (111th Congress). The bills vary greatly from HR669 and others interpreting this bill may be displaying a lack of understanding and comprehension.
The new definition of injurious species under this Act:
‘‘injurious wildlife taxon or taxa’’ means any family, genus, species, subspecies, or hybrid of nonnative wildlife that is determined by the Director (of USFWS) to be injurious in the United States to:
(i) a human being;
(ii) an interest of—
(II) horticulture; or
(III) forestry; or
(iii) any wildlife or wildlife resources.
These are late introductions in the second year of a two-year Congress. Also, Congress recesses later this month and does not reconvene until September 4. There will likely be little action, if any, for some time on this bill. This Act may not get any traction at all, like similar bills.
Given the lateness of introduction and the fate of previously introduced similar bills, it is unlikely the legislation will advance before the end of the 115th Congress this December. However, anti-pet activists have and will continue to push for an end to the keeping of all of these animals (U.S. non-native species) under human care without consideration for what those species may be.