Arkansas Action Alert

Remember to be civil and professional when contacting the Commission!

UPDATE: The public survey at www.agfc1.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eKhU8gWiscTbyDz has ended. You can still submit comments. See our notes beginning 1/3 down this page for Talking Points and sample messaging. It only takes a few minutes.

Meeting: October 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM and October 18 at 9:00 AM

AGFC Headquarters
2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, AR 72205

Meeting details/agenda at www.agfc.com/en/get-involved/calendar/commission-meetings/monthly-commission-meeting-2018-10-18/

Comment Deadline: October 16 by 4:30 PM Central Time

Subject: Major changes to Captive Wildlife Regulations

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).

Stakeholders should send comments and also complete the online survey (link will be posted when it becomes available). The proposed regulation changes will be finalized in October with no further edits unless sufficient opposition is heard (draft was presented at the Sept. 20 Commission meeting).

LINK to full proposal: www.usark.org/arkansas-draft-regulations-revision-sept-2018/

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 grandfathered by January 1, 2020;
    • • There are some exemptions including AZA-accredited facilities.
  5. Currently, the three lists are very sparse and 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 six (6) 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 six 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

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).

Unrestricted species include but are not limited to:

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)

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

 

Current Language: 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)

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

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 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. For example, aside from the Genus Terrapene (North American box turtles), no reptiles are even included on any of the initial lists.
  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: October 16 @ 4:30 PM

Please personalize/edit to fully address your concerns.

Sample subject lines:

  1. STOP the unrestricted list!
  2. NO to overbearing wildlife regulation!
  3. Common sense rule amendments, not overreach.
  4. Unintended Consequences Ahead! NO to white list.

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 to 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).

  1. Buffalo (Bos bison)
  2. House mouse (Mus musculus) and Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus)
  3. Congo peacock (Arfopavo congensis)
  4. Coturnix quail (Coturnix spp.)
  5. Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)
  6. European domestic ferret (Mustela putorius)
  7. Gerbils (Subfamily Gerbillinae)
  8. Green peafowl (Pavo muticus)
  9. Guinea pig (Cavia porcellus)
  10. Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus, Phodopus campbelli, Phodopus sungorus, Cricetulus griseus, Phodopus roborovskii)
  11. Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)
  12. Llama (Lama glama)
  13. Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata)
  14. Ringneck dove (Streptopelia risoria)
  15. Wolf/dog hybrids
  16. Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)
  17. Long-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)
  18. Four-toed hedgehog, African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris)
  19. Bactrian and Dromedary Camels (Camelus bactrianus and Camelus dromedaries)

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, 31.00, 32.00, 39.00, 33.00, 34.00, 35.00 and Addendums I1.00;J1.00,V1.00.

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:

  1. Red-necked (Bennet’s) wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus)
  2. 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:

  1. Apes
  2. Baboons (Genus Papio)
  3. Bats (Order Chiroptera)
  4. Box turtles (Genus Terrapene)
  5. Cervids (Family Cervidae)
  6. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Large carnivores
  2. Macaques (Genus Macaca)
  3. Mountain lions (Puma concolor)
  4. Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
  5. Rodents (Order Rodentia) captured in the wild from Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah or Wyoming.
  1. Skunks (Genus Mephitis and Spilogale)
  2. Waterfowl (except for waterfowl hatched from eggs or acquired from a Commission- permitted Wildlife Breeder/Dealer)
  3. Blackbuck antelope (Antilope cervicapra) (except animals and their offspring held captive at a facility permitted before October 18, 2018)
  4. Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) (except animals and their offspring held captive at a facility permitted before October 18, 2018)

09.17                VENOMOUS REPTILE POSSESSION PERMIT REQUIRED

It is unlawful to possess any medically significant venomous reptile after January 1, 2020, whether native or non-native to Arkansas, without obtaining a valid Venomous Reptile Permit issued by the Commission and complying with all permit requirements in Addendum F1.08. Persons who have submitted a permit application on or before January 1, 2020, may continue to possess existing stock while the application is being processed.

EXCEPTIONS:

(1)      Medically significant venomous reptiles may be transported through Arkansas in accordance with a valid Commission-issued Wildlife Importation Permit.

(2)      No permit is required for native venomous reptiles being kept in accordance with Code 09.14

(3)      No permit is required for accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

(4)      No permit is required for persons possessing venomous reptiles captured in accordance with a Commission Scientific Collection Permit.

PENALTY: Class 3

F1.08            VENOMOUS REPTILE POSSESSION PERMIT REQUIREMENTS

  • Permit Requirements: A Venomous Reptile Permit may be issued to applicants complying with the following requirements:

(1)     The applicant must be at least 18 years old and shall not have been convicted of, or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere for, violating any federal, state or municipal law governing captive wildlife, illegal appropriation or commercialization of wildlife, or cruelty to animals within five (5) years of the application date.

(2)     The applicant shall provide to the Commission, in writing, proof from the appropriate county or municipal jurisdiction, stating that the applicant’s possession of medically significant venomous reptiles is in compliance with all local ordinances.

(3)     The applicant shall submit a written application (available from the Commission) for each facility to be permitted.

(B)       The requested permit shall be denied if:

(1)     The applicant fails to meet any of the issuance criteria set forth in this addendum chapter;

(2)     The applicant fails to disclose material information required, or makes false statements as to any material fact in connection with the application, or supplies false information or makes a false statement on the application;

(3)     The Commission finds, through further inquiry or investigation, the issuance of the permit may pose a significant risk to human health and safety, native fish and wildlife health or populations, or agriculture, or the proposed species cannot be safely confined in a humane manner.

(4)     The species requested in the application are listed in Addendum R1.03.

(C)    Caging and Facility Requirements:

All Venomous Reptile Possession Permittees shall provide secure housing of all medically significant venomous reptiles as defined herein.

(1)        All animal enclosures whether manufactured or constructed (e.g., wood, injection molded plastics, etc.) shall be made in such a way to provide security against escape. The door, lid, or access feature shall be securely latched or locked to prevent escape of enclosed reptiles.

(2)        All rooms in buildings or free standing structures housing venomous reptiles shall be locked when not occupied and must be escape proof not limited to doors, windows, ventilation ducts, gaps or cracks in the structure, etc., so as to provide secondary containment of reptiles that escape their enclosure. When a person is inside any room housing venomous reptiles, all escape routes, including doors, serving as secondary containment must remain closed.

(3)        All doorways entering rooms containing venomous reptiles shall have prominent warning signage on doors that is clearly visible and states “Warning: Venomous Reptiles.”

(4)        All individual enclosures housing venomous reptiles shall be clearly and visibly labeled: (a) “Venomous Reptile”; (b) common and scientific name; and (c) number of animals in the enclosure.  The permittee must remove such labeling from empty enclosures.

(5)        Venomous reptiles when displayed to the public must be kept in keyed or combination locked enclosures meeting the above standards

(D)       Reporting and Record-keeping Requirements:

(1)     The permittee must retain records evidencing legal possession of all wildlife kept under the permit, including licenses, bills of sale, bills of lading, receipts, invoices or other satisfactory evidence of ownership. Records shall include date of acquisition, place of origin, and the name, address and telephone number of the person from whom the wildlife was acquired.

(2)     Records must be retained throughout the time the wildlife is possessed by the permittee or for five years, whichever is longer.

(3)     After January 1, 2020, stock shall only be obtained in the following manner: (1) acquired from Commission-permitted Wildlife Breeder/Dealer; (2) imported into the state in accordance with a Wildlife Importation Permit (Codes 9.10 and 9.11); or (3) legally captured from the wild in Arkansas in accordance with Code 09.14(A).  Permits will not be issued to, and existing permits may be revoked for, facilities that have acquired stock by any other method.

(E)       Inspections and Escaped Reptiles:

(1)        Any facilities and wildlife maintained under the authority of a Venomous Reptile Possession Permit shall be subject to inspection by Commission employees or agents.

(2)        Permittees shall be given adequate notification prior to inspections and during reasonable hours.

(3)        The Commission shall provide Venomous Reptile Permittees 30 days’ written notice to correct any problems identified during an inspection.

(4)        A permittee must immediately initiate efforts to capture any escaped animals in their possession.  The Commission shall be notified within 24 hours of the escape of any reptiles from the facility.

(F)       Transport Requirements:

(1)        Medically significant venomous reptiles will be placed in secure ventilated escape-proof containers for transport. Such containers might include secured snake bags inside locking boxes, ventilated buckets or boxes with lids that snap or screw shut, or other secure containers designed specifically for the purpose. All transport containers shall not be left unattended, and shall be clearly labeled “Caution: Venomous Reptiles.”

(G)      Renewal, Transfer, Suspension and Revocation:

  • Permits may be revoked for failure to comply with the terms of the permit or with the terms of this Addendum Chapter.
  • Persons in violation of the terms of this permit, violation of the Commission Addendum, or upon conviction of associated regulations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shall be notified in writing of such violations and shall have 20 days to respond.
  • If, at the end of 20 days, just cause has not been given, the Commission may suspend or revoke any existing permit and refuse to issue any future permit. Permit suspension, revocation or refusal shall be in addition to any criminal charges that may be filed.
  • Upon revocation, permit holder must legally remove all captive wildlife within the time designated in the revocation, not to exceed 60 days, and failure to do so shall result in the Commission taking action, per Commission policy, at the permit holder’s expense.

 

Online Survey Details

LINK to survey: www.agfc1.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eKhU8gWiscTbyDz

The survey will take 5-30 minutes, dependent upon how long you are with responses. We highlight some important questions below. You can use our notes, as well as the Talking Points posted higher on this page, to aid your responses.

The overall tone of messaging should be that it is unfair to request that stakeholders form educated opinions and answers based upon the incompleteness of this "framework" proposal. Animal keepers currently have no idea where species will fall onto the three lists. It is unfair to expect Arkansas residents to be comfortable with what little detail is being provided.

Animals being kept by humans are not a problem, no matter the species, if done so responsibly. AGFC resources should be used to punish criminals and not competent and capable animal owners.

  1. The first four questions regard the new venomous reptile regulation. This proposal is mostly okay, except for the requirement to have a letter from the local sheriff or official. This will lead to local bans due to lack of education. If the caging requirement and inspection standards are met, then responsible keepers should be allowed to keep these reptiles.
  2. Question 5 discusses the permitted list. The problem is that the list is not complete and we do not know which species will be included. The idea of this list is okay, but we have only a few sample species and do not know what others will be included. The list could be overreaching. It is unfair for citizens to be forced to form a decision at this point.
  3. Question 10 is fone, in theory. However, we do not know if this be used in an overreaching manner.
  4. Questions 13 discusses the prohibited list. While it mentions adding a couple species, we do not know what other species will be included, or if a broad brush will be used to paint this list.
  5. The survey mentions the remaining "non-substantive changes." Many of these are very substantive and very few details are included for some. For example, the three species lists are barely compiled. We do not know if this will be a common sense and practical regulation or more overreaching and unfair government.
  6. Please inform AGFC about yourself and how responsible animal keepers should be punished and criminalized. Instead, AGFC resources should be used to locate irresponsible keepers and wildlife criminals. The responsible Arkansas animal keeping community wants to be able to possess their animals without overbearing and un-American regulation. The good people should not be punished due to the actions of the bad ones.