Aquarium Advice Freak
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Wonderful Windy Wyoming
H.R. 996: Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act
In 2008, H.R. 669: The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act was submitted to the House of Representatives, legislation that had it passed would have limited the number of species available to private citizens to a very few “approved” species. Other species would have immediately been relegated to a “black list” regulated by the Lacey Act, a conservation law that prohibits the trade, sale, or transport of illegal wildlife or wildlife parts.
Once again the viper is prepared to strike, injecting its lethal ignorance. A slightly rewritten version of H.R. 669, H.R. 996: The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act, was introduced into the House on March 6, 2013. From where I stand, it is as restrictive as its predecessor. There are a mere twenty approved species of animal on the list, most of them livestock species, and two of the approved species are among the most invasive and destructive of introduced animals: the pig (Sus scrofa domestica) and the cat (Felis catus).
The ramifications of this legislation have not been thoroughly considered.
First, the law is unenforceable. Current laws governing live animals and animal products are difficult to enforce as they currently exist. CITES and federal regulations clearly define regulated animals and strain current manpower and resources. Enforcement would require a considerable increase in funding, which could be put to better use elsewhere in a struggling economy.
Since I mentioned a struggling economy, there has been absolutely no consideration of the economic impact. Considering the number of individuals in this country who keep birds, small mammals, herps and fish, the loss of jobs and income for pet suppliers and support groups such as companies that manufacture enclosures, food, toys, decorations, filters, etc would have a severe negative economic impact. I suspect the increase and projected unemployment rates would be surprising to most individuals, including myself. Remember, the loss of one job results in a negative impact to many more individuals. If a company lays off people because they can’t sell the product, work for truck drivers who transport the product is reduced, truck stops have less business, etc. The economic effects would be far greater than merely a dozen or a hundred employees loosing their jobs. Even the big box chain stores would not go unscathed, and local mom and pop stores, already an endangered species in their own right, would join the dodo.
The very size and variation of U.S. geography makes this legislation redundant. This law infringes upon the rights of state and local governments, which are much more knowledgeable about the specific environmental issues at hand. Every state in the nation has specific laws governing the sale and possession of animals which could potentially endanger the environment. Unfortunately, many of these laws were enacted too late and the damage is already done. Many of these laws need to be amended and updated. Resources any state would be required to expend to enforce this legislation could most likely be put to better use by allowing each state states to enforce its own applicable laws, for conservation programs designed to research and protect native species, and to fight current environmental disasters. Each state is unique in its risks. Here in Wyoming we had 38 inches of snow and averaged 30° F the last three weeks of April. I’m not too worried about Burmese pythons becoming invasive. I do concern myself with degradation in the gene pool of our native elk due to hybridization with escaped sika and red deer. On the other hand, folks in southern states likely could care less about red deer and have a legitimate concern about pythons. Conservation programs, such as the program here in Wyoming which brought the black-footed ferret back from the brink of extinction in the late 1980s, would be shorted funding so money could be utilized in enforcing the illegal distribution of bettas, parakeets and guinea pigs.
Speaking of conservation, the legislation also disregards the value of the hobby in the maintenance and captive breeding of endangered species. How many endangered/extinct in the wild cichlids and livebearers are currently maintained and kept from extinction primarily by hobbyists? What about species like the redtail shark and white cloud mountain minnow, both of which are extinct in the wild, yet persevere due to commercial breeding? What if trade in these species was prohibited across state lines, destroying gene pools? What if there was no commercial demand for these fish? Will people continue to breed them? Will they be able to afford to continue breeding them? More species could be endangered by limiting the trade of these species than would be saved by restricting the sale and distribution of all species.
I have included a link to the bill as it currently reads. I encourage each and everyone of you to write AND call your local representatives and senators, to express your displeasure with H.R. 996. Our future in the hobby depends on it.
So many fish, so few tanks.
"In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur