Act of 2022 Lacey Act Amendments

ALERT: America COMPETES Act of 2022 Lacey Act Amendments

If this act goes into place, many people, as well as animals may be affected, positively, or negatively.

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I watched the video you link to, and (without having studied the legislation) found it problematic and unconvincing. The importation and transportation across state lines of non-native species with the potential to naturalize is something that should be regulated–even if it curtails some of the freedoms to which pet-owners and hobbyists have become accustomed, and even if it may hurt some businesses that have been profiting off that trade. No? We’re rapidly homogenizing ecosystems, and released pets certainly contribute to that. I can see making certain exceptions for efforts to maintain captive populations of endangered species, but … should people just be able to appoint themselves captive breeders of rare species?


I do understand, and agree with that, to some extent. But rather than trying to stop it altogether, would it not make more sense, like Tyler said, to make it necessary for the exotic pet owners to have specific permits that hold them accountable for the release of an exotic organism? Or some other way to help enforce laws set in place against the release or ownership of certain species?

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It strikes me that “this will hurt pet businesses” and “this will hurt your (gecko, goldfish, lizard) hobby” are self-interested arguments, ie about people’s private interests and desires and not about conservation or the environment. And there’s good evidence that some of these private interests may be harmful to the environment, thus the legislation. The best way to protect endangered (geckos, goldfish, lizards or whatever), is to fight like hell to preserve their natural habitat, and to stop global warming, etc. Captive breeding is like an absolute last resort kind of conservation --I know people do it but I’m trying to think of amateur efforts in that line that have actually helped. Pere David’s deer maybe? Those axolotls in Mexico, and the nuns who kept them for centuries to make medicine out of them? But, like, I hope iNat will get more exotic pet owners out into nature to find out how cool the local critters are…


Once again, I agree.
If we could get more people to become aware about these global issues, and more people to help try and prevent things like habitat-loss, over hunting/harvesting/fishing, and global-warming, things would almost certainly turn out for the better for many of the endangered species.
I know that for one thing, there are some people out there who breed endangered species in captivity, then release them into their natural habitats/places where the species is known to be declining rapidly in numbers to help the populations. And others mainly have ‘exotic’ animals because they were rescues, now being taken care of by the person because the animal either cannot be released back into the wild because it is an invasive, or because it was too injured to survive for long if they had released it once it got decently better in terms of health.

I do understand your point though, and agree, but there are still a lot of people that this would affect negatively, as well as some of the captive species that are at high risk in the wild.


This will harm ex-situ conservation. If zoos can’t transport endangered species over state lines, then they can’t breed them.

Also, many of the species that would be banned under this regulation would be ridiculous. We’re talking thousands of commonly kept species here - mostly fish, reptiles, and invertebrates - and most of which have very little chance to actually become invasive. This law would also likely run into a similar problem that prohibition did, where a huge (and obviously unregulated) black market would spring up. This black market would almost without question cause more invasive species issues than the current legal trade does. It will probably also increase poaching.

This change isn’t really about invasive species, despite what they tell you, it’s about the animal rights people trying to shut down the zoo and pet industries. I urge everyone to voice against this bill.


There’s several species of fish that are practically extinct in the wild that are being kept alive by a few private hobbyists - mostly gooeid species.


If this bill does pass, will there be other ways to reimagine sustaining endangered species that do not involve importing them into the US?

Could it also be about both? Can it be about both and even more? We are betting that iNatters run the gamut on their stances toward exotic pets. We are betting that iNatters run the gamut on their stances toward zoos. “Animal rights” sounds like a topic of interest to iNat Forum. Maybe the term has different meanings to different people.

We would be more inclined to see if people want to get involved and then encourage them to support their values. We understand not everyone will agree on what is best for the animals and for people. It’s hard because of how interconnected are all people and all life on the planet.


“If this bill does pass, will there be other ways to reimagine sustaining endangered species that do not involve importing them into the US?”
That’s not up to the US, is it? Almost certainly not.

By “animal rights” I mean organisations like PETA and HSUS, which go so far into “protecting animals” that they harm conservation.

EDIT: If this really was about stopping invasive species, they would more carefully consider what should be banned rather than just blanket banning everything and starting an uncontrollable black market.


Improvements to the Lacey Act would help keep Ohio’s waters cleaner and less weedy.

My experience is with aquatic invasive plants. Current interstate commerce regulations allow for non-indigenous, harmful plants to cross state borders easily. For instance, my county water garden supply store grows plants restricted for sale in Ohio but can sell them to other states - where they cause headaches for land managers. Nymphoides cristata, Egeria densa, Salvinia minima… There has been a persistent hydrilla contamination problem and a bunch of southern odonate records associated with interstate trade at just one shop, too. States have disorganized regulations and it is up to businesses to list which states can and cannot accept shipments. There are not enough inspectors and they are not experts in all flora and fauna either - different state regulations make a steep learning curve and enforcement for violations is rare.

Federal regulations might also help with depreciated, confusing, and sometimes invented common names: “Eldoea densa” is a combo of invasive Egeria densa and native Elodea sp. It is tough for consumers looking for native plants to get what they want. And, unfortunately, many aquariums are dumped and if those animals have plants with them the $3.50 “anacharis” can turn into a $35,000, 5-year effort to remove hydrilla.

Unregulated markets for pets and exotics already exist. Hard-to-trace, private groups on social media, and websites dedicated to organize swaps are kind of already underground. It is hard for me to imagine it being worse, if that makes sense. Devoted people are already trading online.

I support strengthening the Lacey Act. I support exemptions. Any exemption should have research to show an organism will not become established and harm our health, ecosystem, and economic interests. In Ohio, we vet invasive plants, propose them to the state agencies and lobbyists have a chance to advocate for exemptions prior to regulation. Exemptions are often granted. Sometimes an exemption is phased in over time, which offers time to develop native alternative stock. Finally, I think zoos and conservation groups would be granted permission to move important animals.

The Lacey Act would help the nation prevent the spread of invasive species and keep our wild places wild.


I agree the Lacey Act should be amended, especially as far as plants are concerned. But this proposed way is not the way to do it. In this case, thousands of commonly-kept pet species would suddenly become illegal, which would absolutely make the black market. much worse than it is now.


I think it’s OK to discuss proposed amendments like this, but @carabid_47 the forum shouldn’t be a place for specific political advocacy. I altered the title of the topic and it would be great if you could frame the first post as more of a discussion starter.


I couldn’t think of what to change it to, so I hope what it currently is works.

I didn’t realize that this fell under the category of politics, if I had realized that, I would not have posted it in the first place. My apologies @tiwane Tony!

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I think it’s an intersection of conservation and politics, which often happens. But for the forum I think that it’s best to frame it as a discussion rather than telling poeple what they should do.


My primary concern is that by banning the crossing of state lines, it’s going to have reprecussions on the welfare of a lot of animals. Some people have to cross state lines to access veterinary care. Some people have to move around a lot. Some species are long-lived so even if their owners don’t move often they might still move a couple times over an animal’s life and cross a border. The northeast US has a lot of small states packed together so crossing borders for stuff is not at all a stretch.

If someone has a snake or gecko and it’s illegal for them to take it with them when they move, the odds that they just dump it in the wild in order to not have to deal with it are going to go up.

I understand the shape of what these amendments are trying to accomplish. But what is potentially a problem in one part of the country is not going to be problematic in other parts. The US is a huge place–snakes that can become invasive in florida are not going to stand a chance in Oregon. This feels like going at a tricky problem with a chainsaw. Especially concerning without knowing what their White List is going to end up covering.


If the act does go into play, hopefully there will be some changes made that makes it so that people can take pets with them if they move across state lines.

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I see lots of good comments. I have read the existing Lacey Act law and the amendment dozens of times for complete understanding. Unfortunately, I think it is written too broadly to effectively meet its purpose without serious reprocussions, if you go onto a page in Facebook called Lefislative Rights for Parrots, they have videos explaining the Lacey Act interpreted by a person with a JD. Also if an animal isn’t on the white list it defaults to the black list. How can we possibly tough trough thousands of animals to get them on the white list? For me personally, I move many times and seek vet care out of state for my rescue animals, this would prevent me from doing either. This bill is poorly written.


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