May 7, 2009Thank you for sharing with me your views regarding H.R. 669, the Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act. Your input is important to me.
As you may know, our nation's primary legal authorities for the conservation of plants and wildlife are the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, the Lacey Act of 1981 and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. On an international basis, the primary legal authority for wildlife trade is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Under these acts, wildlife and wildlife products imported by or exported from the United States generally must pass through one of several ports designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for clearance by an agency wildlife inspector.Imported birds and some fish species are required to undergo a period of quarantine to ensure that they are not a health risk to humans or other animals. These protocols are necessary to effectively regulate the nonnative species entering the United States. As you may know, H. R. 669 was introduced by Delegate Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) on January 26, 2009.According to the bill's proponents, the purpose of this measure is to establish a risk assessment process to prevent the introduction and establishment of nonnative wildlife species in our country.
However, numerous concerns have been raised that the wording of this complex piece of legislation is so vague and far-reaching that significant unintended consequences would occur should the bill be enacted into law. As written, H.R. 669 would ban all nonnative species that do not appear on an "Approved List" established in the legislation.This ban would include all breeding, export, import, purchase, sale and transport of an "unapproved" species.As such, it would essentially criminalize the keeping of certain non-native pets by law abiding pet owners - certainly not the intent of the bill's sponsor.
These concerns were openly discussed during a Congressional Hearing on H.R. 669 by the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife on April 23, 2009. As a result of the testimony presented by various witnesses, including the USFWS and a spokesperson for our domestic pet industry, the bill's sponsor acknowledged that numerous, significant changes would have to be made to the legislation before it should move any further through the legislative process. Be assured that I will continue to watch this issue closely to ensure the rights of Wyoming's small businesses and private pet owners are protected.
Again, I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. Please continue to keep in touch.
Cynthia M. Lummis
Member of Congress