ACTION ALERT: Utah herp regulations

The Division of Wildlife Resources of the Utah Department of Natural Resources has issued proposed changes to the State's wildlife regulations regarding reptiles and amphibians (herps). While we do not believe the problems created with the proposal are intentional, the Division should edit their amendments to avoid the many unintended consequences.

The deadline to comment is 5:00 PM on October 31 (details below).

You can read the full proposal at www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Utah-wildlife-regs-review-2019.pdf. Please note that pages 2-16 are mainly strikethrough of the current regulations. Pages 16-24 contain the new language.

Noted Issues

Issue: One area of concern is on page 21 of the attachment (right column). By their definitions, the use of reptile or amphibian in the regulation does not just pertain to native species. That means these regulations apply to both native and non-native species. This creates a new certificate for those working with even non-native species:

R657-53-13.  Commercial Use Certificate of Registration.

(1)  An individual or entity wishing to utilize an amphibian or reptile in manner qualifying as commercial use must first acquire a commercial use certificate of registration from the division.

Issue: Another issue is on page 23 (left column). They do not define "Expanded" in the definitions section so there is no set value. Those keeping herps will not know if they qualify for the new Reptile and Amphibian Education Course. They do define "Expanded" for non-controlled native species in another section (not the Definitions section) but this still needs to be resolved.

R657-53-16.  Reptile and Amphibian Education Course.

(1)  A person must complete an amphibian and reptile education course before:

(a)  importing, collecting, or possessing a species having a total possession limit of Expanded;

Issue: As written, this will require federal permits for all species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The big problem is that federal permits are not provided or required for possession, intrastate sales, or interstate transport of ESA-listed species. Only interstate sales require federal permits.

R657-53-9.  Determination of Prohibited Species; Establishing Daily Limits and Total Possession Limits for Controlled Species.

(d)  Any amphibian or reptile listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered or threatened pursuant to the federal Endangered Species Act shall have a zero daily and total possession limit, except:

(i)  the division may issue a wildlife document authorizing the collection, importation, possession, or propagation of a threatened or endangered species under the criteria set forth in this rule where the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a permit or otherwise authorized the particular activity; and

(ii)  A person may import, possess, transfer, or propagate captive-bred eastern indigo snakes (Drymarchon couperi) without a certificate of registration where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a permit or otherwise authorized the particular activity.

Issue: Page 19 (right column). This section regards possession and collection limits. It states that all herps must have lawful acquisition documentation. All herp breeders must register as propagators.

R657-53-8. Exceptions to Total Possession Limits and Daily Collection Limits.

Issue: Page 18. This section states that for all herps "proof of legal possession accompanies the specimens."

R657-53-5. Activities Allowed Without a Wildlife Document.

Sample Messaging
Remember to be civil and professional. Please edit our message as you see appropriate.
The deadline to comment is 5:00 PM on October 31.

Questions and comments should be directed to:

Staci Coons by e-mail: stacicoons@utah.gov
by phone: 801-538-4718
by FAX: 801-5384709

Subject:

Changes to R657-53 regarding herps

Sample letter:

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and DNR Directors,

I write today as a Utah resident concerned with the proposed changes to R657-53; Amphibian and Reptile Collection, Importation, Transportation and Possession. While I believe the issues I have may simply be a matter of oversight, I strongly request that these issues are addressed and remedied.

One issue found throughout the proposal is the lack of clarification if certain regulations and sections apply to only native species or to both native and non-native species.

Specifically, I would like to highlight my concerns with the sections below:

R657-53-13: This reads as it will require a certificate of registration for anyone working with herps (both native and non-native) commercially. This is a new requirement. It does seem captive-bred animals are exempt per Definition 7(b) but no distinction is made for native vs. non-native species which are wild-caught. I would also like to see a clarification that captive-bred animals are indeed truly exempt.

R657-53-16: This section requires a Reptile and Amphibian Education Course before anyone imports, collects, or possesses a species having a total possession limit of "Expanded." I do not see a definition for Expanded and this new course also seems to apply to both native and non-native species. I do see Expanded defined for native non-controlled species but it is defined only in a certain section and only for native uncontrolled species.

R657-53-9: As written, this will require federal permits for all species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The big problem here is that federal permits are not provided or required for possession, intrastate sales, or interstate transport of ESA-listed species. Only interstate sales require federal permits. Again, this seems to apply to both native and non-native species.

R657-53-8: As written, it seems even breeders of non-native species must register as propagators and that this is a new requirement.

R657-53-13: With these revisions, it would seem appropriate to remove the state-enforced ban on the sell or trade any turtle, including tortoises, less than 4" in carapace length. This is a federal law and is also antiquated and in dire need of modifications itself.

Thank you for time and consideration regarding my concerns. I am thankful that Utah has an agency protecting our native wildlife resources but also do not want to see unintended and misguided regulations put into place. Have a good day.

YOUR NAME

Article written by USARK