Arkansas Action Alert

Remember to be civil and professional when contacting the Commission!

UPDATE 1/30/19: Herds of camels and bison, and packs of wolf-dog hybrids will all be completely unrestricted with no permits needed from AGFC. However, you cannot buy a Pac-Man frog at a herp show in Texas and bring it home without following all the regulations for a "permitted species," and some of that needs to be done before you come back into Arkansas.

Only 15 pet herp species have been added (3 require permits and 12 are unrestricted) and no pet bird species have been listed yet. We do not know where the many hundreds of other pet species will fall but with the initial permitted list, it appears the regulation will be far overreaching. AGFC maintains their plan to review and list out hundreds of species onto an unrestricted list (completely unnecessary). Also, once the regulation becomes effective, species cannot be brought into the State until they are reviewed and placed upon either the unrestricted or permitted list. No importation or breeding allowed for species listed as prohibited. All species not yet listed as unrestricted or permitted are considered prohibited until the species is reviewed. More information below.

Comment Deadline: Feb. 18

Comment email: AskAGFC@agfc.ar.gov with the subject line “Regulations Proposals”

The proposal is expected to be voted on at the February 20-21 Commission meeting.

The February 7 public meeting was recorded and can be watched at www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrOv5JX7R0Y&fbclid=IwAR1AS5x20SygkiVbjnKaLtcU5ag8tu6BnA5LGihrwz1JvRecJf51ZWYADA4.

UPDATE 1/17/19: The draft proposal linked below was introduced and had its first reading. It may have a final reading and vote at the February 21 Commissioner meeting. All stakeholders should continue to contact the Commissioners and AGFC Staff with their opposition.

UPDATE 1/10/19: AGFC has released their updated proposal draft. The Unrestricted List is almost void of herp species and the initial Permitted List demonstrates extreme overreach and baseless rationale.

LINK 1 to AGFC Summary: www.usark.org/arkansas-january-2019-summary-3

LINK 2 Full Text of Proposal with tiered lists beginning on page 40: www.usark.org/arkansas-draft-revisions-january-2019

UPDATE 10/17/18: After hearing from speakers, including USARK President Phil Goss, the Commissioners approved a motion to delay the final vote on this proposal until the Commission meeting on January 17, 2019. The temporary moratorium on the importation of venomous reptiles was extended 90 days.

Comment Deadline: Feb. 18

Comment email: AskAGFC@agfc.ar.gov with the subject line “Regulations Proposals”

Summary: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) is amending much of the captive wildlife regulation. These changes will affect keepers and businesses dealing with all species except fish and domesticated species (i.e. dogs, house cats, and traditional livestock such as cattle and chickens).

LINK to full proposal: www.usark.org/arkansas-draft-revisions-january-2019/

LINK to AGFC's summary: https://usark.org/arkansas-january-2019-summary-3/

Summary of Changes

  1. A three-tiered system consisting of three species lists: Unrestricted, Permitted, and Prohibited. Any species not found on a list must be requested for review by AGFC before importation is allowed.
  2. Unrestricted list: (NOTE: USARK is opposed to the compilation of an unrestricted species list, a concept also referred to as a “white list.” By default, any species not on the permitted and prohibited lists should be considered unrestricted; attempting to list all of the unrestricted species is rife with unintended consequences, and an unnecessary exercise in futility. The concept of having an unrestricted species definition, meaning species not listed as permitted or prohibited, is just fine. It is the compiling and indexing of a white list of over 2,000 species which is problematic.)
    • • Exempt from Wildlife Breeder/Dealer Permit.
    • • Exempt from Wildlife Importation Permit.
  3. Permitted list:
    • • Require Wildlife Breeder/Dealer Permit.
    • • Require Wildlife Importation Permit.
  4. Prohibited list:
    • • Permits for the breeding, sale, or importation of these species will not be issued;
    • • Possession is only allowed for animals that are grandfathered (registered by the deadline);
    • • There are some exemptions including AZA-accredited facilities.
  5. Currently, the three lists are sparse and nonsensical. AGFC has reported they will continue to add species as they are reviewed. See the initial lists at the bottom of this page.
  6. All U.S. native box turtles are listed as prohibited (Genus Terrapene). This is an effort to protect the indigenous Arkansas turtles but also would prevent all responsible breeding and importation of animals born under human care. Anyone opposed to full prohibition should comment on this point.
  7. New regulation for “Medically Significant Venomous Reptile Species.” See the full regulation and species list at the bottom of this page.
    • • Briefly: A permit is required to keep these species. The permit is $75 and expires on June 30th each year.
    • • Facilities housing these species must be inspected by AGFC and must meet caging standards and other requirements.
  8. New definition of WILDLIFE – All wild birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and other wild aquatic forms, and all other wild animals, regardless of classification, whether resident, migratory or imported, protected or unprotected, dead or alive, and shall extend to and include any and every part of any individual species of wildlife, including animals living in a captive status. NOTE: Fish are not regulated under this code.
  9. A Wildlife Importation Permit will not be required for residents to return legally owned wildlife originating in Arkansas that has been out of the state for less than 30 days.
  10. "Persons may sell or transfer up to twenty (20) individual wildlife specimens per calendar year that were acquired from a permitted Wildlife Breeder/Dealer or imported with a valid Wildlife Importation Permit provided each sale or transfer is registered with the Commission. Registered wildlife may be subsequently sold or transferred in accordance with the preceding sentence." In other words, residents can buy/sell up to twenty animals annually without a Breeder/Dealer Permit if those animals originate within Arkansas from a permitted breeder/dealer or are accompanied by Importation Permits and the transfers are registered with the Commission.

Solution to Unrestricted List Problem

There is a very simple remedy. The proposal just needs the below edit (suggested changes in red text):

Current language: R1.01 UNRESTRICTED CAPTIVE WILDLIFE SPECIES LIST

The following species are exempt from Codes 9.02 (Possession of non-native wildlife in captivity prohibited), 9.07 (Wildlife Breeder/Dealer permit required) and 9.10 (Wildlife Importation permit required).

Suggested language: R1.01 UNRESTRICTED CAPTIVE WILDLIFE SPECIES LIST

Species not included in Addendum R1.02 Permitted Captive Wildlife Species List or Addendum R1.03 Prohibited Captive Wildlife Species List are exempt from Codes 9.02 (Possession of non-native wildlife in captivity prohibited), 9.07 (Wildlife Breeder/Dealer permit required) and 9.10 (Wildlife Importation permit required).

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

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

Email: askagfc@agfc.ar.gov

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. The below Talking Points and snippets from the sample letter/email can be used during phone calls.

Talking Points

  1. There is no need to compile an all-inclusive list of species to create an unrestricted list. By default, any species not classified as permitted or prohibited should be regarded as unrestricted.
  2. The vast majority of species kept will qualify for the definition of unrestricted and an honest list will contain thousands of species. Review of every species kept would require unreasonable resources and effort from AGFC staff.
  3. An all-encompassing unrestricted list would need to be reviewed annually as taxonomic changes occur frequently. Each taxonomic change would create errors and confusion for stakeholders and AGFC staff alike.
  4. Actively listing all species not found on the permitted and prohibited list into an accepted unrestricted list is still redundant and a waste of AGFC resources.
  5. An unrestricted list will cause problems and confusion for AGFC law enforcement.
  6. It is dreadfully unclear which species will be included on which lists. The Commissioners should direct staff to further compile the permitted and prohibited lists before these changes are accepted so that stakeholders can fairly understand the implications of this regulation. As of 1/30/2019, only 15 popular pet species have been evaluated and listed. That is so incredibly sparse that there is no fair for stakeholders way to make an informed decision. Of those 15, the 3 that have been listed as permitted point to overreach.
  7. All U.S. native box turtles are listed as prohibited (Genus Terrapene). This is an effort to protect the indigenous Arkansas turtles but also would prevent all responsible breeding and importation of animals born under human care. Anyone opposed to full prohibition should comment on this point.
  8. AGFC staff is moving too hastily and the requisite amount of work for the lists as proposed cannot be completed in such a short time. The focus should be entirely upon completing only the new venomous reptile regulation and then staff can take more time to move onto other aspects of this code.
  9. The proposed lists will likely never be completed. Commonly kept species might be added and the rest will be held for later review, or possibly never reviewed. The unintended consequences for stakeholders should count heavily against requiring the compilation of an unrestricted list.
  10. Hundreds of species are quite similar to one another and pose absolutely zero risks to human safety or natural resources (i.e. desert geckos). For example, the commonly kept leopard gecko will qualify as an unrestricted species while similar but less commonly kept species (i.e. all the knob-tailed geckos, viper geckos, fat-tailed geckos, frog-eyed geckos, etc.) which should also qualify by default will not be reviewed unless specifically requested, leaving any current and interested keepers in limbo. There is no valid reason for this approach and most species will remain in limbo while responsible reptile enthusiasts would suffer unintended consequences due to this overbearing approach.

Sample Messaging: Remember to be civil and professional.

Comment DEADLINE: February 18

Please personalize/edit to fully address your concerns.

Sample subject line: Regulations Proposals

Sample Letter

Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioners and Staff,

As an Arkansas resident and responsible animal owner, I adamantly request that the Commission takes a step back and realize the hasty and intensively flawed approach they are taking to address captive wildlife in my state. Specifically, the proposal to index all animal species which can be kept without certain regulations onto an "Unrestricted Captive Wildlife Species List" needs to be tossed. At the surface level, it may sound simple and sensible but the unintended consequences are many.

The proposed listing of all unrestricted species is completely unnecessary. The Commission will be compiling two other lists: permitted and prohibited. By default, any species not found on either of those two lists should qualify as unrestricted. There is absolutely no need to list out all of the unrestricted species. The list will contain over 2,000 species.

This list would also require constant attention as taxonomic changes occur frequently, especially for reptiles and amphibians. Such a list, honestly compiled and maintained, would be massive; an energy and time intensive undertaking. The reality of the situation is that such a list will never be completed, and any stakeholders working with species that have not been evaluated will be left in limbo. This is unfair to Commission law enforcement, stakeholders, and Commission staff. This will create unintended consequences for all.

While I fully appreciate what Commission staff is trying to do, it is an overbearing approach. Rather than a comprehensive unrestricted list, the regulation should simply define unrestricted species as those not found on the permitted or prohibited lists. It really can be quite simple but the currently proposed method to list them all out is nonsensical.

In summary, I fully support a new unrestricted category for captive wildlife and appreciate that the Commission is finally amending the captive wildlife regulations. However, I do not support an overbearing regulation hinging upon an exhaustive list of all of those species. It is completely unnecessary. While other wildlife and state agencies are working to clean up their regulations, Arkansas would instead be creating a new mess to be cleaned up in the future. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

Currently Proposed Captive Wildlife Species Lists

(most species are still being reviewed so we do not know where they might fall)

R1.01  UNRESTRICTED CAPTIVE WILDLIFE SPECIES LIST 

The following species are exempt from Codes 9.02 (Possession of non-native wildlife in captivity prohibited), 9.07 (Wildlife Breeder/Dealer permit required) and 9.10 (Wildlife Importation permit required).

Buffalo (Bos bison)
House mouse (Mus musculus) and Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Congo peacock (Arfopavo congensis)
Coturnix quail (Coturnix spp.)
Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)
European domestic ferret (Mustela putorius)
Gerbils (Subfamily Gerbillinae)
Green peafowl (Pavo muticus)
Guinea pig (Cavia porcellus)
Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus, Phodopus campbelli, Phodopus sungorus, Cricetulus griseus, Phodopus roborovskii)
Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)
Llama (Lama glama)
Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata)
Ringneck dove (Streptopelia risoria)
Wolf/dog hybrids
Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)
Long-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)
Four-toed hedgehog, African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris)
Bactrian and Dromedary Camels (Camelus bactrianus and Camelus dromedaries)
African Sideneck Turtle (Pelomedusa subrufa)
Bearded Dragon (Pogona spp.)
Water Dragon (Physignathus spp.)
Ball Python (Python regius)
Blood Python (Python curtus)
Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttata)
Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliates)
Fattail Gecko (Hemixtheconyx caudicinctus)
Gargoyle Gecko (Rhacodactylus auriculatus)
Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)
Tokay Gecko (Gecko gecko)
Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

Additionally, persons may possess and hold captive fish, bullfrogs, mussels, aquatic turtles, alligators and other aquatic wildlife in compliance with Chapters 26.00, 27.00, 29.00, 30.00, 31.0.

R1.02  PERMITTED CAPTIVE WILDLIFE SPECIES LIST

Permits for the breeding, sale, and importation may be issued for the following species in accordance with Codes 09.07 (Wildlife Breeder/Dealer Permit Required) and 09.10 (Wildlife Importation permit required):

Red-necked (Bennet’s) wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus)
African Dwarf Aquatic Frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri)
Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor)
Horned Frog, Pacman Frog (Ceratophrys spp.)
Moccasins (Agkistrodon spp.)
Pygmy Rattlesnakes (Sistrurus spp.)
Rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp.)

All native species of wildlife not listed in Addendum R1.01 (listing species for which the permits are not necessary) or R1.03 (listing species for which permits will not be issued).

Any other unlisted species upon evaluation and determination by the Commission that the species does not pose a significant risk to human health and safety, native fish and wildlife health or populations, or agriculture, and that can be safely confined in a humane manner.

R1.03  PROHIBITED CAPTIVE WILDLIFE SPECIES LIST

Permits for the breeding, sale, or importation of these species will not be issued other than in accordance with exceptions listed in Codes 9.07, 9.10, 9.11 and Addendum F1.03:

Apes
Baboons (Genus Papio)
Bats (Order Chiroptera)
Box turtles (Genus Terrapene)
Cervids (Family Cervidae)
Coyotes that originate from or have lived in Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming or Canada.

Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus and Vulpes vulpes) that originate or have lived in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming or Canada.

Large carnivores
Macaques (Genus Macaca)
Mountain lions (Puma concolor)
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Rodents (Order Rodentia) captured in the wild from Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah or Wyoming.
Skunks (Genus Mephitis and Spilogale)
Waterfowl (except for the importation of hatching eggs or waterfowl acquired from a Commission-permitted Wildlife Breeder/Dealer)

Blackbuck antelope (Antilope cervicapra) (possession of these animals and their offspring restricted to only facilities permitted before February 20, 2019)

Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) (possession of these animals and their offspring restricted to only facilities permitted before February 20, 2019)