ACTION ALERT: NJ A1923

New Jersey A1923: Ban on Educational Outreach Programs

UPDATE 10/22/18: Passed Assembly Appropriations Committee.

UPDATE: The bill passed out of committee on May 17 with amendments. While this bill is still completely unnecessary and a redundancy when stacked on top of animal welfare and cruelty laws already in place, very few, if any, animal educators will be affected if passed after incorporation of the amendments.

Rather than banning any programs with species non-native to New Jersey (under language as introduced), there is now a list of "wild or exotic animals" (see below). There are also some exemptions (i.e. USDA-licensed facilities) which were not previously included.

Species list (program with these species will be banned unless qualifying as exempted):

(1)   Artiodactyla, excluding domestic cattle, bison, water buffalo, yak, zebu, gayal, bali cattle, suidae, sheep, goats, llamas, vicunas, or alpacas;

(2)   Camelidae;

(3)   Canidae, including any hybrids thereof, but excluding domestic dogs;

(4)   Crocodilia;

(5)   Elephantidae;

(6)   Felidae, including any hybrids thereof, but excluding domestic cats;

(7)   Marsupialia;

(8)   Non-human primate;

(9)   Perissodactyla, excluding domestic horses, ponies, donkeys, or mules;

(10)  Pinnipedia;

(11)  Ursidae; and

(12)  Elasmobranchii, excluding rays.

Note that the below Action Alert applies to the original bill language (bill as introduced prior to amendments), but some of it has now been edited by us. Anyone contacting legislators may want to edit some of the messaging. The new bill language can be found at the bottom of this page.

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After misinforming legislators with the previous "Nosey's Law" (S2508) in 2017, the animal rights groups came back again in 2018 with the same proposal, now bill A1923. Luckily, Governor Christie vetoed the 2017 bill (S2508) just days after his office was informed of the actual implications of its wording. At the start of 2018, the same false propaganda was spread in, and about yet another superfluous bill and more wasting of taxpayer money. It now has both an Assembly and a Senate version.

Our Alert for the Companion bill, S1093:  www.usark.org/2018-blog/action-alert-nj-s1093/

We say "superfluous," as animal welfare and animal cruelty laws already exist to protect animals in New Jersey. Those should be enforced without the continued unnecessary and repetitive legislation proposals which do nothing more than waste taxpayer money and allow legislators the veil to seem busy with "work."

Animal rights and pseudo-animal welfare groups will again feed the legislators false propaganda and misinformation, so we must do our job to educate legislators properly.

"Nosey's Law" is not a ban on the use of elephants in circuses. It is a ban on taking a tortoise into a classroom for an educational program about reptiles. It is a ban on taking a ball python, a red-eyed tree frog, a parakeet, and a ferret into a library for an educational show discussing the differences between reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. It is a ban on llamas and any other non-traditional livestock at the State Fair or county 4-H fairs. Basically, if an animal non-native to New Jersey is placed into a vehicle and taken anywhere where someone besides a veterinarian will see it in a private room, that it is an illegal activity and you are a criminal. Not even zoos are exempt!

"Performance" as used in this bill, means anything from which the audience benefits. Education is a benefit. If the presenter is entertaining while teaching, then there are two benefits.

According to New Jersey Title 23: “Exotic animal” means any species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, mollusk, or crustacean that is not indigenous to New Jersey. While the New Jersey Fish and Game Council could list only certain species to be included in this law, that is not part of the bill, nor is it to be expected.

A1923 has passed out of committee (May 17). You can find all their contact information at www.njleg.state.nj.us/committees/Committees.asp?House=A by clicking their names under Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Voice your opposition now!

TAKE ACTION by doing one or, preferably, all of the below.

Remember to be civil and professional at all times.

  1. FAX letters (samples below) to their offices (contact link above). You can use any or all of the sample letters below.
  2. Mail letters (samples below) to their offices (contact link above). You can use any or all of the sample letters below.
  3. Email the Committee Members (see below for more).
  4. New Jersey residents should also contact your applicable Senators and Assembly Representatives. You may find their names and contact details on the right side of the page at www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp. You will find multiple ways to search. You may need to scroll down.

Sample Letter Headings or Email Subject Lines

  1. NO to A1923, Nosey's Law
  2. STOP A1923, Nosey's Law
  3. A1923 is Bad for New Jersey
  4. Do Not Listen to the Nosey's Law Lies

Copy/paste email list:

See #4 above to find your representative.

Sample Letters/Emails

Short letter

Dear New Jersey Legislator,

I implore you to stop A1923, known as "Nosey's Law." As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I ask you to realize that this bill is redundant, and a waste of New Jersey taxpayers' money. New Jersey already has extensive animal welfare and anti-cruelty legislation. The amendments to this bill that were passed by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in May removed a lot of the unintended consequences, but that has not removed the fact that this legislation is unnecessary to begin with. Last year (with S2508), and now again this year, the New Jersey legislators were lied to and provided misinformation regarding the implications of this bill. If this bill passes in any form, it will be touted as an Animal Rights victory, and used to inspire harmful legislation in other states. Hopefully, you will do what is right for New Jersey, the animals, and responsible animal educators by saying NO to A1923! Have a good day.

 

Longer email

Dear New Jersey Legislator,

As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I implore you to stop A1923, known as "Nosey's Law." I ask you to realize that this bill is redundant, and a waste of New Jersey taxpayers' money. New Jersey already has extensive animal welfare and anti-cruelty legislation..

The amendments to this bill that were passed by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in May removed a lot of the unintended consequences, but that has not removed the fact that this legislation is unnecessary to begin with. A1923 would be just another unnecessary law! New Jersey already has animal welfare laws. Enforce those laws, punish the "bad actors" and the criminals. No new law is needed to ensure that happens.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter. Hopefully, you will do what is right for New Jersey, the animals, and responsible animal educators by stopping A1923! Have a good day.

 

Full-length message (great to use when faxing or mailing)

Re: Opposition to A1923, “Nosey’s Law”; prohibits the use of elephants and other wild or exotic animals in traveling circus acts

Dear New Jersey Legislator,

You must stop A1923, known as "Nosey's Law." As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I am informing you that this bill is bad government policy and it is bad for New Jersey. I ask you to realize that this bill is very poorly-written, far overreaching, unjust, and will have tremendous negative effects on both the people and animals in New Jersey. While similar legislation is being introduced across the U.S., this bill is not the same. It goes far beyond others and demonizes legitimate animal educators. A1923 goes so far as to make illegal even the programs, often done at no charge, offered by responsible animal keepers who provide educational services to thousands upon thousands of children and groups at schools, libraries, boy/girl scout meetings, and other gatherings. Please take heed and be cognizant of the unintended consequences of this bill.

The bill infringes on the rights and freedoms of responsible animal owners who provide education regarding their animals to tens of thousands of New Jersey residents annually.

I am a fierce advocate of responsible animal ownership. It is unreasonable to punish those engaging in conscientious animal husbandry as a failed attempt to crack down upon those who behave negligently. This bill even chastises those providing valuable services to New Jersey residents.

Allow me to emphasize two of the major flaws with A1923:

  1. The definition of “performance” lumps, with extreme prejudice, any program including an animal into the same category as dogfighting. By the definition used, dog fighting and an educational talk about a tortoise at a school are one and the same.
  2. This would be just another unnecessary law! New Jersey already has animal welfare laws. Enforce those laws, punish the criminals, and allow law-abiding, responsible citizens to continue educating others.

I must highlight the clear lack of research behind this proposal. Private keepers are the ones teaching people about animals. Due to the dreadful language used in this bill, education is considered a “benefit” and any “performance” which provides a “benefit” would be banned.

This bill would make the hundreds of beneficial, educational outreach programs performed each year by responsible animal keepers illegal. These events allow children to actually see these animals in person. Books and videos are great, but seeing the animals leads to much greater appreciation and fuels the desire to learn.

Where will the conservationists and biologists of tomorrow come from if the interest in animals is never sparked? Most of today’s professionals in these relevant fields only took those paths because of events such as these, which will now be banned.

Collective punishment is never the answer. Do not lump the incredible services provided by these educators into the same category as dog fighters. The atrociousness of this bill is staggering.

A ban will only make matters worse. A ban will actually create animal welfare and public safety issues which will lead to the problems you claim to be preventing.

This broadly sweeping ban will be unbeknownst to many. Who would imagine that taking a turtle, parrot or any other non-domesticated animal to a school for an educational seminar would be a crime? Citizens will not think to check to see if it is illegal and will be unaware. You will be making criminals out of people who just want to share the magnificence of these animals.

Prohibitions such as this proposed ban demonstrate an irrational approach over common sense. Similar performance bans do exist in some places. However, the language used in this bill is far more restrictive and unreasonable.

The captive care, or husbandry, of these animals has evolved drastically over the last two decades. The animals are now bred under human care and not imported from the wild. So much has changed and the misinformation presented by animal rights groups consists of remnants from a time which no longer exists.

Lastly, I have heard the argument that exotic animals are not cared for properly. Animal rights groups often throw around pseudo-statistics to support this claim.

While these groups demand that all exotics are kept improperly, that is not the case nor is there legitimate data to support it. As just one example, for the past several years reptiles have been found in 5% of U.S. households. If all these animals were kept improperly, shelters and rescues would be beyond flooded with surrendered reptiles and amphibians (collectively known as “herps”). This simply is not the case.

This bill will actually cause animal welfare issues by removing education as to which species make good pets and which do not. Unfortunately and occasionally, there are people who bring exotic animals home without proper research, which also happens with dogs and cats. I advocate for in-depth research before bringing any animal home, be it dog, cat, gerbil, snake, gecko, parakeet, or fish. Just as we see with dogs and cats, there are irresponsible keepers, but they are a small minority. Collective punishment (punishment of the whole due to a few) is not the answer. Do not ban one of the greatest educational tools available to future pet owners.

Please feel free to contact stakeholders for any factual information regarding reptiles and amphibians, as well as other exotic animals. It is apparent you have either received false information or have failed to consult legitimate subject matter experts. Either I or the stakeholders will gladly clear it all up for you.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter. Hopefully, you will do what is right for New Jersey, the animals, and responsible animal educators by stopping A1923 in its tracks. NO to A1923! Have a good day.

Sincerely,

(your name here)

 

TEXT of bill (new version from May 17)

Read below or at the link

  1. a.    As used in this section:

     “Mobile or traveling housing facility” means a vehicle, including a truck, trailer, or railway car, used to transport or house an animal used for performance.

     “Performance”  means any animal act, carnival, circus, display, exhibition, exposition, fair, parade, petting zoo, presentation, public showing, race, ride, trade show, or similar undertaking in which animals perform tricks, give rides, or participate as accompaniments for the entertainment, amusement, or benefit of a live audience.

     “Traveling animal act” means any performance which requires an animal to be transported to or from the location of a performance in a mobile or traveling housing facility.

     “Wild or exotic animal” means any live animal that is classified into any of the following scientific classifications:

     (1)   Artiodactyla, excluding domestic cattle, bison, water buffalo, yak, zebu, gayal, bali cattle, suidae, sheep, goats, llamas, vicunas, or alpacas;

     (2)   Camelidae;

     (3)   Canidae, including any hybrids thereof, but excluding domestic dogs;

     (4)   Crocodilia;

     (5)   Elephantidae;

     (6)   Felidae, including any hybrids thereof, but excluding domestic cats;

     (7)   Marsupialia;

     (8)   Non-human primate;

     (9)   Perissodactyla, excluding domestic horses, ponies, donkeys, or mules;

     (10)  Pinnipedia;

     (11)  Ursidae; and

     (12)  Elasmobranchii, excluding rays.

  1.   Notwithstanding any other law or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, no person shall use a wild or exotic animal in a traveling animal act.
  2.   Any person who violates this section shall be subject to the penalties provided for in section 10 of P.L.1973, c.309 (C.23:2A-10), except that the criminal penalties provided in subsection f. of that section shall not apply.
  3.   This section shall not apply to:

     (1)   exhibitions at a non-mobile, permanent institution or facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture and  permitted by the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the Department of Environmental Protection;

     (2)   outreach programs for bona fide educational or conservation purposes conducted by, or affiliated with, a non-mobile, permanent institution or facility that meets the requirements described in paragraph (1) of this subsection;

     (3)   an institution of higher education exhibiting wild or exotic animals for research or education purposes; or

     (4)   outreach programs conducted by governmental entities.1

Article written by USARK