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Hearing Slated For Nonnative Species Ban

On April 23, 2009, a hearing is scheduled on H.R. 669, a ban on nonnative species.

By SmallAnimalChannel News Division
Posted: April 1, 2009 8:30 p.m. EDT

pet guinea pig
Courtesy Isabelle Francais / Bowtie Inc.
The legislation could ban ownership of several mammals, including guinea pigs.

A Congressional subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for legislation that could effectively ban ownership of thousands of nonnative species in the United States, including most birds, reptilesfish and several mammals (hamsters, gerbilsguinea pigs and ferrets) commonly kept as pets.

The legislation currently exempts dogs, cats, horses, goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) and a variety of farm animals, all of which are also not native to the United States.

The House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife has scheduled a hearing on House Resolution 669 for April 23, 2009.

Essentially, the legislation would require the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to create lists of approved and non-approved species of nonnative wildlife (species not naturally found in the United States) based on risk assessments of the species’ potential likelihood to “cause economic or environmental harm or harm to another animal species’ health or human health.”

Currently, species are banned under the Lacey Act only when they’re determined to be an actual threat.

Proponents of the bill include animal rights organizations and some environmental groups.

Opponents have raised concerns that the legislation is too simplistic and too rigid to deal with a complex issue such as invasive species. It could also have a significant financial impact on several industries, including the pet industry.

One problem is that the legislation would seek risk assessments of all nonnative species, including the thousands that have already been in the pet trade in the United States for decades or more. It would require proving a nonnative species could not pose a threat of establishing a wild population anywhere in the United States, according to opponents. For example, the legislation would ban a species that could be a threat in Hawaiian waters, but not likely in Kansas or Arizona throughout the United States.

Also, the opponents say the Fish and Wildlife Service does not have the resources to conduct risk assessments under the legislation’s timetables (37 months from the bill’s enactment to assess all non-native species compared to an average of 4 years to find a species harmful under the current Lacey Act).

The Fish & Wildlife Service also could determine it has insufficient scientific and commercial information to determine a species is either approved or unapproved, effectively banning trade and ownership of that species.

That is because the legislation prohibits import into or export from the United States, and interstate transportation of, any species not specifically listed on the approved list.

It also bans the possession or trade, breeding and release into the wild of such species. Pet owners who owned their pets prior to the risk assessment’s beginning would be allowed to keep their pets, under the proposed legislation.

Species that may be harmful but are already “so widespread in the United States that it is clear to the Secretary that any import prohibitions or restrictions would have no practical utility” would also be included on the approved list.

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Hearing Slated For Nonnative Species Ban

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Reader Comments
Dear me!
what is the world coming to????
many ANMALS WILL DIE because of this idiotic thing! they just cannot look after them selves they depend on people looking after them...WHO ARE THESE IGNORANT MURDERERS??????
I for one am happy to live in the UK at this time...i could not give up my 2 lovely rabbits wether it breaks the law or not!! i am happy to stand united with the US small animal channel and fight these idiots!!!
Zahraa, Leicester, AB
Posted: 4/20/2009 6:58:05 AM
I own two wonderful guinea pigs, and this just outrages me! If I'm not able to care for my babies, doesn't that count as animal cruelty? In my mind it does. I can't bear to let them down like that.
Sabrina, Edmonds, WA
Posted: 4/19/2009 7:57:00 PM
I am totally opposed to this as a responsible chinchilla owner. They can't make a blanket law assuming all exotic pets are somehow a threat. My animals are indoor only and would not survive (let alone harm any other species) if they were outside. They are thinking of snakes in Florida released by irresponsible owners rather than small animals we all love as our pets and family members, yet they are trying to treat all as if they are the same. I will join everyone protesting this ridiculous legislation.
Jane, Omaha, NE
Posted: 4/18/2009 10:50:10 AM
I've been busy-the subcommittee in charge of the bill is the one involved in Insular Affairs, Oceans & Wildlife--sounds really pet-friendly, doesn't it? The chairperson is Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo--out of Guam! How does she know what goes on in the US? She doesn't even live here! Anyway, the best part is that I found her website with her contact info--www.house.gov/bordallo. I just emailed her & "expressed my dismay" to put it mildly. Please do the same, just remember to be calm & respectful--we don't want her discounting our cause.
Deb, Tarpon Springs, FL
Posted: 4/17/2009 7:07:39 PM
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