2014: Cat Ex Action Alert (Deadline 2/21/14)

Note: This is a new comment submission format, so comment even if you have previously.

In response to the USFWS proposal to allow a “Categorical Exclusion” from NEPA requirements: This rule would allow USFWS to add species as injurious (making importation, interstate commerce and interstate transportation illegal) without full due process afforded under the law. This affects reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, small mammals and a huge portion of the pet industry. Any species listed would disappear from the pet community. Spread the information and protect your rights. Remember to be civil and professional in any correspondence. View the reopening announcement in the Federal Register at http://usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/FWS-HQ-FAC-2013-0118-0005.pdf.

You can also view additional USARK information and previous action concerning Cat Ex at www.usark.org/uncategorized/catex-update-and-usark-in-d-c-92413/.

 How You Can Help (Deadline extended to February 21, 2014)

It is most effective to do all 4 steps below 

1. Copy and paste the subject line and sample letter below (or edit) and complete the form at www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FWS-HQ-FAC-2013-0118-0005.

2. You can mail a letter to USFWS. Just print the letter at http://usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Dear-Interior-Secretary-Jewell.pdf. Be sure to sign it and print your name and address at the bottom (you may include your email address and phone number if desired). Also, write the date in the upper right. The mailing address is below. Write "NO to CatEx" on the envelope.

Public Comments Processing
Attn: Docket No. FWS–HQ–FAC–2013–0118
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS–2042–PDM
Arlington, VA 22203

3. Contact your Senator: Simply click the link and then “Choose a State.” Click on your Senator’s contact link and you will be provided with a contact form and contact information for your two state Senators. Copy and paste the letter and subject title below and send it. http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

4. 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 sample letter below and send it: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/


Sample Letter

Subject: NO to USFWS Categorical Exclusion

Sample letter below:

I write today to oppose the Service’s proposed categorical exclusion from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for proposed listing of species as injurious under the Lacey Act.

As a reptile hobbyist, I am overwhelmingly troubled over the impact that listing certain species of snakes and other species commonly held in the reptile trade in the United States will have on my pets, as well as the livelihoods and small businesses of others in the reptile segment of the pet industry. The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) and others have conducted extensive research and due diligence. They have provided economic impact data and sound science to USFWS to refute many of the findings and concerns raised in the initial proposals. These concerns included the possible violation of NEPA requirements.

Specifically, USFWS ignored important scientific findings that contradicted its pre-determined outcome. State fish and wildlife agencies, research institutions, conservationists, zoos, public educators and even other federal government scientists raised important conservation concerns. Although such concerns are at the heart of NEPA, these were unlawfully ignored. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and many other reputable organizations oppose this categorical exclusion.

I, therefore, object to the Service’s last minute effort to remove the NEPA protections that are afforded to citizens under the law to prevent the implementation of an onerous rule that will impact the freedom of Americans to enjoy reptiles as pets and own reptile-related businesses while failing to address the potential negative environmental impacts of the rule.

I believe that the listing of these snakes, and any other species without due process, is unwarranted and infringes on our rights to engage in an activity that we enjoy and that poses no threat to the environment. The proposed exclusion from NEPA just adds insult to injury in denying American citizens the due process the law affords to challenge the impact of the proposed rule.

As a citizen of America, the land of the free, my freedom to own reptiles and amphibians as pets has been under attack for several years. These attacks have caused great hardship to myself, my family, my friends who own reptile-related businesses and the economy of the United States. By allowing this rule, the FWS would have overreaching power to severely affect the pet reptile community further. I implore you to not allow this exclusion as it is only one more step toward destroying a $1.4 billion industry and my freedom to enjoy my beloved pet reptiles, along with over five million other families.


Your name, address, contact info, etc.


What is a “Categorical Exclusion” Under NEPA? 


USARK  Talking Points on the FWS’ Proposal that will impact Lacey Act Listings

  1. NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) requires agencies to assess environmental impacts and identify alternatives to “major Federal actions” that may “significantly affect the quality of the human environment.” The agency is required to publish an environmental impact statement (“EIS”) that describes its findings and justifies the proposed rule (in this case, the injurious listing of certain snakes under Lacey)
  2. There are two exceptions to the EIS requirement: (1) if, after conducting a less thorough environmental assessment (“EA”), the agency makes a “finding of no significant impact” (“FONSI”); or (2) if the action is subject to a so-called “categorical exclusion.”
  3. Categorical exclusions (“CE”) are defined as actions which do not, individually or cumulatively, have a significant impact on the human environment.
  4. If a potential impact raises any uncertainty over a rule’s significance, then an “extraordinary circumstance” exists, and there is no exclusion allowed.
  5. For the proposed listing of the nine species of constricting snakes, FWS made a finding of no significant impact after conducting what USARK demonstrated was a legally inadequate environmental assessment. USARK also found other NEPA and Administrative Procedure Act violations in the rule.
  6. View more information at http://usark.org/2013-blog/fws-seeks-nepa-exemption/