Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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A proposed new law, House Resolution #669 (HR 669), The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, is working its way through the United States Congress. This resolution was introduced by Delegate Madeleine Bordallo [D, Guam] on 26 January 2009, was referred to Referred to the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife on 4 February 2009 and is scheduled to be heard by the House of Representatives on 23 April 2009. The stated purpose of this resolution is to prevent the keeping and the propagation of animals that are not native to the United States that are deemed to potentially be capable of harming the economy or the environment, people, native species or their habitats [free PDF].

On the surface, HR 669 looks like a much-needed environmentally-friendly bill as touted by the Nature Conservancy, an organization I’ve been a member of for most of my life. HR 669, if enacted into law, proposes to prevent or to potentially undo at least some of the environmental and economic damage caused by invasive non-native bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish and invertebrate species. It will do this by preventing these animals from being bred as well as preventing them from being sold, re-homed or relocated across either state or national boundaries for any reason. Even though there is a “Grandfather Clause” that would allow those of us who already hold any potentially damaging animals to keep them [see Section 3f], we still would not be allowed to re-home, sell or breed them nor would we be allowed to move them across either state or national boundaries for any reason [see Section 6].

Even though I strongly support the removal of all free-roaming non-native exotic species by whatever (humane) means possible, I think HR 669 is both grossly misguided and poorly thought out. Here’s why;

  1. First, HR 669 starts out by automatically exempting many of the most damaging and invasive exotic animals;

    The exceptions: cat (Felis catus), cattle or oxen (Bos taurus), chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), dog (Canis lupus familiaris), donkey or ass (Equus asinus), domesticated members of the family Anatidae (geese), duck (domesticated Anas spp.), goat (Capra aegagrus hircus), goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus), horse (Equus caballus), llama (Lama glama), mule or hinny (Equus caballus x E. asinus), pig or hog (Sus scrofa domestica), domesticated varieties of rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), or sheep (Ovis aries), or any other species or variety of species that is determined by the Secretary to be common and clearly domesticated. [HR 669, Section 14.5(D)]

    Nowhere in HR 669 is there a formal definition of what constitutes “common and clearly domesticated,” which leaves this phrase and its enforcement open to litigation, political pressures and interpretations based on restrictive agendas.

  2. Species can be added to either the Banned or Approved lists based upon a vague and poorly-defined risk assessment process. Unless a particular species is included on the Approved List, it would be prohibited to import, export, transport across state or national boundaries, or breed that species in this country. This would be devastating to captive breeding programs for endangered species! Further, HR 669 listing criteria mandates proving a negative — that a particular species poses no potential risk of causing harm anywhere within the United States. But it is notoriously difficult to “prove” that a particular species is not invasive, and studies designed to answer this question have been incorrect (perhaps the most famous example is the Cane Toad, Bufo marinus, that is invading Australia after being deliberately introduced as a form of biocontrol. Instead of controlling its intended target, the sugarcane beetle, Dermolepida albohirtum, these large toads instead began eating all the small native wildlife, ranging from insects to small mammals, birds and snakes. Worse, it was discovered — alas, too late! — that Cane Toads are poisonous, so large predatory animals that try to eat them also die. Woops!)
  3. HR 669 calls for the establishment of a user fee system for funding assessments following their addition to the “Preliminary Approved List.” However, there is no mandate that these user fees are reasonable and affordable. As a result, these user fees can be made so cost prohibitive that they eliminate everyone, or nearly everyone, from participating in the process, which can result in a few tax-exempt organizations or wealthy individuals using the law to force unnecessarily restrictive agendas on the public. Oddly, these user fees are not made available to the USFWS until 36 months into the process, which makes me wonder how would the USFWS fund the first three years of work without the required user fees?
  4. According to HR 669, permits authorizing only “importation” may be issued to “zoos, scientific research, medical, accredited zoological or aquarium display purposes, or for educational purposes that are specifically reviewed, approved, and verified by the Secretary”. However, there is no requirement anywhere in HR 669 that any import permits ever are granted to anyone. Furthermore, these institutions still cannot breed, sell or otherwise transfer ownership, nor relocate their animals across either state or national boundaries once they’ve been imported. Even if the required permits are granted, where will any of these approved organizations obtain their animals? Critical habitat for nearly all wild species is declining worldwide, so many animals are becoming threatened or endangered in the wild and thus, they cannot be imported into the US in accordance with CITES laws anyway.
  5. There are literally tens of thousands of species of non-native birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates that are kept and bred in the United States (for example, there are more than 2,500 species of non-native freshwater and marine fish species in the aquarium trade alone). Quite simply, USFWS inspectors lack the necessary training to accurately and knowledgeably identify the majority of native and non-native genera and species, and any potential or existing hybrids, nor would they be likely to know which species are native to specific regions of the United States; and further, these inspectors would be unlikely to be able to accurately identify and distinguish all those thousands of species, cryptic species and hybrids that are not native to the United States.
  6. HR 669 unrealistically requires the USFWS to complete risk assessments for all nonnative species in the Untied States within 37 months of passage. Since it takes an average of 4 years for USFWS to determine whether a species is harmful under the Lacey Act, it is not clear how they will be able to conduct the required risk assessment outlined in HR 669 within the prescribed time frame, particularly considering their historical lack of staff and funding.
  7. HR 669 could also result in particular species being listed as illegal in all states when in fact, they possess the potential to become established in just one or two specific states or regions. One such example are “my” research parrots that I study scientifically as well as breeding and keeping as pets; the lories (Loriinae). Lories are illegal in Hawaii because, as tropical nectarivorous/frugivorous parrots, they have the potential to become established there. However, lories lack this capability in the continental United States, yet under HR 669, this entire subfamily of parrots would be illegal. HR 669 conveniently ignores the fact that most states already have their own prohibited species lists that they enforce.
  8. If enacted, HR 669 would be unnecessarily punitive to pet owners and hobbyists. As written, HR 669 will not allow hobbyists and pet owners to bring any non-approved pets with them if they move to another state or country, nor will they be allowed to give away or sell their non-approved pet species to anyone else who can care for them. Thus, if a hobbyist or pet owner moves, dies or cannot continue keeping their pet for whatever reason, the only outcome for those animals is euthanization.
  9. HR 669 will seriously damage the pet industry, which relies selling both animals and the supplies necessary to keep those animals healthy. It is estimated that in 2008, there were 14 million American households with exotic freshwater fish, 6-7 million with exotic birds, 6 million with small exotic mammals, 5 million with exotic reptiles, and more than 1 million with marine fish. The loss of profits and other economic damages would not only include pet stores, but would also extend to specialty veterinarians, feed stores, pet boutiques, pet care providers and consultants who specialize in caring for exotics.
  10. HR 669 does not address the very real problem of invasive species that are already established and thriving throughout the United States, such as feral populations of domestic cats and dogs roaming freely through our cities and suburbs and the feral pigs that are digging up Hawaii — all of which have all been scientifically documented as extremely damaging to native species and their habitats.
  11. HR 669 inexplicably ignores the tremendous economic, environmental, and habitat damage caused by invasive exotic plant species, many of which are commonly cultivated as “ornamental plants,” but which are invasive in addition to being either noxious or toxic.

In principle, I agree with what HR 669 is attempting to do. It seeks to prevent or limit already existing damages caused by invasive exotic species and to establish a process that would prohibit possession of those species that are likely to become pests if they escape. However, as written HR 669 would have unintended consequences that are damaging to those who work with animals for a living, including but not limited to the pet industry, veterinarians, biomedical research, entertainment, agriculture, aquaculture, sports fishing, federal and state hatcheries and hunting. Of course, this situation effectively sets up the USFWS for failure and numerous lawsuits by legitimate environmental organizations as well as by animal rights activists and their fellow wingnuts.

It is essential that this country adopts a scientifically-based approach to preventing further environmental damages from escaped exotic species. But it takes time and money for the government to scientifically study any species and to make an accurate assessment of its potential for invasiveness or harm. Considering the chronically dismal state of funding for basic scientific research, especially research into the natural history of non-native animal species, it is unlikely that most exotic species that are kept and bred in this country will be included on the approved list anytime soon.

In short, while it is important for the United States to address the very real issue of damages resulting from exotic species and to take steps to prevent yet more invasive exotic species from becoming established in this country, HR 669 is not the bill that will produce these desired results. If environmental and conservation organizations are serious about crafting workable and reasonable legislation regarding this complex issue, they would create a collaborative relationship with the very people who are in “the animal industry”; ranchers and farmers, scientists, veterinarians, specialty breeders, consultants and hobbyists, pet owners and others whose lives will be negatively impacted by enacting these laws.

Take Action Now.

HR 669 Links:

Will HR 669 Transform Your Exotic Animals into Illegal Aliens?

Video discussing some of the impacts HR 669 will have on exotic animal breeders, pet store owners and scientists.

Are you a scientist, conservation biologist, biomedical researcher or exotic animal breeder who will be impacted by HR 669?

Brief Factsheet (printable) regarding HR 669 and its impacts.

The New England Aquarium Speaks Out Against HR 669.

PetSmart Speaks out Against HR 669.

Comments

  1. #1 Judy
    April 14, 2009

    To me this smacks of what PETA and HSUS are trying to do — end all human/non-human interaction of any kind, forever. Scary. We can’t let this happen.

  2. #2 Valerie
    April 14, 2009

    Based on your research on this bill, would domestic ferrets potentially become illegal in all states? Ferrets are currently illegal in Hawaii and California. Hawaii’s ban is for obvious reasons, as just about everything is illegal to own in that state. Some of the reasons I’ve heard CA politicans use for making ferrets illegal to own include the possibility of feral breeding colonies being formed (by animals that are already altered before they are shipped from the breeder…?), that the might hunt birds (when their hunting instincts have been bred out of them…?), that they aren’t really domesticated (even though they have been domesticate longer than cats), and the behaviorism of their weasal relatives. Given that domestic ferrets are the third most popular mammalian pet in the US, I’m wondering if millions of owners will suddenly find themselves unable to move without leaving behind their ferrets, adopt new ferrets to complete social groups, or

  3. #3 "GrrlScientist"
    April 14, 2009

    yes, pet ferrets would be illegal in the United States.

  4. #4 Ed Deupree (Wildmorphs)
    April 14, 2009

    Please join me in opposing, H.R. 669, the Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act. This Bill is being advanced by powerful special interest groups and creates an unworkable process which is designed to fail. The government simply does not have the resources to evaluate the thousands of nonnative species already in this country for years and meet the unrealistic listing criteria and timeframes in the law, and such a process is unnecessary for controlling truly invasive species. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that banning the import, sale, and trade of the vast majority of these animals will have any positive effect on the economy, environment, or human or animal species’ health. In fact, if passed as drafted, H.R. 669 would destroy many families and businesses. It would have a decidedly negative impact on an already ailing economy by destroying a vital and growing industry at a time when our country is in need of jobs and growth.

    Pet lovers such as myself support a legislative solution that targets species which may actually be invasive, rather than every species not originally native to the U.S., including thousands of species that have been in this country for decades without adverse impact. This Bill is a disaster to American business owners as well as pet owners who care deeply about their pets and face having to dispose of them because of a flawed law.

    To oppose HR669 please visit http://www.nohr669.com

  5. #5 Betsy Boush
    April 14, 2009

    I think the best thing to do here is to make this national news. The more people that know about it, the better. I’ve already written to CNN and the Boston Globe. If everyone called their local paper, hopefully one would carry the story!

  6. #6 "GrrlScientist"
    April 14, 2009

    agreed, betsy. i am doing my part by sending this analysis along to newspapers and to congresscritters.

  7. #7 SimonG
    April 14, 2009

    I haven’t heard much concern about feral ferrets here in England, despite there being no particular restrictions on their ownership. They’re also still used for pest control, and laying cables, both of which might be expected to lead to some escapes.
    I guess the lack of concern is largely because the polecat is native, so there’s little scope for ferrets to do any extra harm. It also seems that where polecats do well, ferrets don’t: presumably they get out-competed by their wild cousins. Still: escaped ferrets don’t seem to do terribly well.

    Regarding Lorries… There are ring-necked parakeets breeding succesfully in England. What prevents escaped lorries from breeding succesfully outside their normal habitats? Are they just more delicate?

    I agree that plants need to be included. I suppose it’s tempting to think that they’re less of a problem because they can’t run away from you: it’s relatively easy to kill a plant. But even excepting those plants which are actually bloody difficult to kill off, there are plenty of them which grow fast enough to cause a lot of problems in a fairly short time. Then there’s the very big problem of importing diseases which could effect important native plants.

    Overall, preventing incursions by non-native animals (and plants!) seems worthwhile, but as so often seems to be the case these days – in my government as well as yours – the bill hasn’t been properly considered. Governments could do with enacting a lot fewer laws, but doing a much more thorough job of those they do put through.

  8. #8 Bill
    April 14, 2009

    The underlying object of the bill is to ELIMINATE pet ownership and animal use, being pushed by PETA and HSUS, both extreme orgs. Some liberal gov control freaks are pushing it as well, because they are funded by these orgs.

  9. #9 Rachel
    April 14, 2009

    HSUS is actually backing this.

    It’s just another ridiculous bill from some lady in Guam who’s pissed off that some snake is causing damage to her country.

  10. #10 Tom Lott
    April 14, 2009

    “GrrlScientist” said: “Thus, if a hobbyist or pet owner moves, dies or cannot continue keeping their pet for whatever reason, the only outcome for those animals is euthanization.”

    Ironically, one of the many unintended consequences of this ill-conceived bill would be that many more newly illegal pets would simply be released into the environment, creating even more of the problem that this bill allegedly proposes to alleviate. Sure, euthanasia would be the “right” thing, but since when can you depend on the majority of pet owners doing the right thing. Besides, in these dire economic times many owners of pets on the “approved” list are abandoning them in record numbers. Euthanasia, for owners of multiple potentially illegal pets, could get expensive; it would a much simpler solution for many to just “let them go.” This horrible bill must be stopped!

  11. #11 Bird Advocate
    April 14, 2009

    “First, HR 669 starts out by automatically exempting many of the most damaging and invasive exotic animals;”

    No, no no! This is ludicrous! Who wrote this bill, Maddie? BIRDERS AND ECOLOGISTS UNITE! GrrlScientist, you are respected in all our circles, Please push for some unity and organization!

  12. #12 Joyce Bartel
    April 15, 2009

    DO NOT PASS THIS BILL!!!!!!!!!

  13. #13 Paul Murray
    April 15, 2009

    Are GMOs non-native?

  14. #14 Kathy Heaton
    April 15, 2009

    GMOs? Genetically modified organisms… like GloFish? If the nominate is non indigenous, I imagine all modifications would be considered the same, at least until they’ve been captive bred for however many decades necessary for them to be reclassified as “domesticated.”

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    Enter your zip code under “Elected Officials”
    Next screen: “click here” under the Action Alert.
    Scroll down to edit/select your talking points.
    (It doesn’t get any easier than this, folks!-kbh)
    Send your message. Share this one.

    Only 8 days ’til the April 23 hearing… Write today!

  15. #15 Ray
    April 15, 2009

    The terms “native”,”non-native”,”exotic”,etc. have absolutely NO biological meaning whatsoever. Users of these terms have a profound ignorance of biogeography and evolutionary history. For example: the Camelidae (camel family)currently has species in Asia, mid-east/Africa, and South America, but this group evolved in North America and migrated to these other places while going extinct in North America. So, where exactly are camels “native” too?
    I assume that camels would be verboten under this legislation, despite this being their original birthplace.

    Homo sapiens are clearly not “native” to North America,so why do we get to choose which other species can live here?

  16. #16 David Harmon
    April 15, 2009

    I already signed the petition against it, at my local (indie) pet store.

  17. #17 Sciroccopteryx
    April 15, 2009

    SimonG – No, the main problem is that Ring-necked Parakeets are generalist feeders on nuts, fruits, seeds, etc., while Lories are specialist nectar-feeders and can only eat soft fruit. Hence, a problem in Hawaii, but not in many harsher American environments.

  18. #18 SimonG
    April 15, 2009

    Thanks for that. I guess they might have a chance in parts of Florida.

    The parakeets seem to be thriving in England, from what I read, (for limited meanings of “thrive”). I’ll have to make an effort to go and see some next time I have the chance.

  19. #19 BethAnn
    April 15, 2009

    Thank you for this. This is one of the best thought out explanations of why everyone should oppose 669 I have seen. Thanks for laying it out there, logically!

  20. #20 LisaAnn
    April 15, 2009

    Some comments from a fish owner. Many many species of fish that are kept as pets have not been scientifically described. They have no official scientific name. There are way way too many species to go through one by one. We’d end up with nothing but guppies and goldfish which are probably two of the most likely species to become invasive (carp are already invasive) because they are so hardy and easy to breed.

    As for the grandfather clause. Receipts?!? Seriously? I don’t have a receipt for a fish I bought 8 years ago (yes I have two that are that old). I don’t have a receipt for fish that people gave to me, I traded for, or bred myself. I don’t keep receipts for fish past the length of time for the dead fish refund policy of the store. And how are we supposed to keep our fish from breeding? I can’t have them spayed and neutered. Sure the vast majority of their offspring will be eaten, but I have a densely planted tank so occasionally they survive. I can’t separate them to keep them from breeding. They need their fellow species (except for the territorial ones) to keep them from becoming stressed and dying.

    I’m all for preventing the spread of INVASIVE non-natives but this bill is ridiculous.

  21. #21 Raz
    April 15, 2009

    Great discussion of the bill Grrl. I was about to write something for my own blog, but I just linked to yours instead! In the interest of full disclosure, I own and train parrots, so I have a personal interest in the bill, but I’m also an oceanographer whose work involves transport of invasive marine species.

    I thought when I read the actual bill it would have *some* scientific merit. I’m used to the anti-animal rights crowd over-reacting about what I consider reasonable legislation (spay/neuter laws, etc.) But this bill is just ludicrous. Even aside from the draconian pet prohibitions, it is so ill-defined and unfocused that it’s hard to see how efforts could ever be directed where they are truly needed.

    And one of the most ludicrous parts is that it would probably make the problem much worse once people started releasing their exotic pets rather than allow them to be killed if they had to move or were ill and could no longer care for them. I can guarantee mine would be inhabiting the hills of California before I handed them over to be euthanized.

  22. #22 David Amon
    April 16, 2009

    HR669 is a radical attempt with the sole purpose of ending the pet trade. First off it only outlines animals down to the species level. Under a species several sub-species exist and if one of those sub-species are found invasive the whole species is listed as invasive. Second is if an animal is found invasive in Puerto Rico (A US territory), but no other place in the US it still goes on the unapproved list. That means you can’t even have it in Alaska. Currently the Lacy act and numerous state laws are in place to protect our country from invasive species, but they are not enforced. The states need to step up to the plate on this and address animals that are invasive to their environment not the government. Currently in Pennsylvania the law requires a breeders license to breed exotics. Very few people that breed exotics get this license or even know they need it. This is a primary example of a law that is in place, but just not enforced. In closing I would like to point out that HR669 takes a guilty until proven innocent stance and since the cost and time to perform these studies have not been scientifically outlined could turn into a multi billion dollar ordeal just to get the exotics commonly kept on the approved list.

    Support USARK, PIJAC, and myself in letting our government know this bill is majorly flawed. Visit http://www.nohr669.com today.

  23. #23 Jared
    April 16, 2009

    Fantastic post. It is nice to hear a fellow scientist vocalize the truth behind this matter so eloquently.

  24. #24 Gary
    April 16, 2009

    What the hell are you people trying to do?
    And why?
    So far I think ur hr 669 is dom.
    SO maybe u can talk me in to helping.
    But I do thing u can……

  25. #25 Cathy
    April 16, 2009

    As someone who has had gerbils since the 1960′s, thank you for this story!

    Domesticated gerbils only have a lifespan of about 3 years. If the government studies them for 4 years before approving them, results will be meaningless. All the gerbils in the United States will be dead from old age. Furthermore, the portion of their life when they actually breed is only 18 months. If a study only takes a year and a half, all the gerbils in the country will die out.

    This would be not only personally devastating, but would have worldwide implications for gerbil enthusiasts. Gerbil breeders in this country help develop and sustain new lines and colors of gerbils.

    Gerbil owners are very concerned about the possibility of a nationwide ban. They have been banned in California for many years because of the potential for them to survive and reproduce in the wild in that state. But they cannot survive in the wild in the vast majority of the country. How easy it would be for the government to look at the California ban and slap an automatic nationwide ban on them while they dithered around studying them! What are they going to do then – approve them in the other 49 states after they’re all dead?

    Species regulation should be controlled by the states, not by the federal government.

  26. #26 Mary Lynn
    April 16, 2009

    The very best summary and analysis of this Draconian bill that I have read. I will recommend it to my contacts.

    One result of the passage of HR 669 that was not addressed, is that even though our current pets (I own two GW macaws) will be Grandfathered in, it will be of no value to those of us who live in an RV and travel all over the US full time. There are many thousands of us who live this lifestyle with our “non-native/exotic” pets.

  27. #27 Megan
    April 16, 2009

    Excellent blog. People have gotten so riled up by this bill that there’s a lot of exaggeration, and emotional outburst about it all over the internet. But the way you broke down this bill and explained the issues with it, well, you did a better job than I could have done. I am adding a link to this blog to my own website’s HR669 section.
    The only flaw I noticed is the thing with zoos (and those using animals for research, education etc…)being exempt, unless I’m overlooking something in the bill, zoos could get a permit to import animals, and they could keep the animals they had before those animals were prohibited, but they’d still be subject to the bill’s other restrictions (no breeding for example). But again, over all excellent blog.

  28. #28 Bob O'H
    April 17, 2009

    Megan – you’re right. This is the relevant clause:

    IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may issue a permit authorizing importation otherwise prohibited under section 6(a)(1), for scientific research, medical, accredited zoological or aquarium display purposes, or for educational purposes that are specifically reviewed, approved, and verified by the Secretary, if the Secretary finds that there has been a proper showing by the permittee of responsibility for the specimen and continued protection of the public interest and health with respect to the specimen.

    Oops. D. melanogaster isn’t native to the US. Someone tell Sarah Palin!

  29. #29 vcasella
    April 17, 2009

    Thank you!this is the most informative blog I have read! I raise geckos from New Caledonia FOR A LIVING! The crested was thought to be extinct till 1994 now we have a thriving population through captive breeding! There are lots of species that would be extinct if it were not for captive breeding! Although I believe that controlling invasive species is a must, but there has to be a better way then this ridiculous bill! So much for a free country!

  30. #30 MattK
    April 17, 2009

    Where I live there is a somewhat opposite restriction against keeping native animals. I’m not sure how the texts of the respective laws compare, however, if they are similar than it is relatively straightforward for institutions to get permits or exemptions.

    I do own ferrets which are domesticated animals and so should not fall under the purview of the bill (although that doesn’t mean that all domestic animals are harmless as you mentioned).

    Anyway, the pet trade is out of control and generally does a lot of harm. I know you folks enjoy your hobby but…

  31. #31 Theraphosa
    April 17, 2009

    In general, I agree wholeheartedly with you. I would also not care to see this bill become law. My reasons have to do with the fact that it is just very poorly written and casts too wide a net. Also, I might be called on to help enforce this law and I think it would be a law enforcement nightmare.

    I would like to clarify a point you made in paragraph 6 of blog. You misinterpret a couple of factors in the law. First off, psittacines and cagebirds are already considered “non-injurious” under this law. It’s kind of complicated, but in HR669 there is the folling (quoted from the bill itself:

    >>>>SEC. 5. LIST OF UNAPPROVED SPECIES.

    (a) Requirement To Issue List of Unapproved Species-

    (1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register a list of nonnative wildlife species that are prohibited from importation into the United States except as provided in section 7.

    (2) INCLUDED SPECIES- The list under this subsection shall include–

    (A) those species listed as injurious wildlife under section 42 of title 18, United States Code, or under regulations under that section, as of the date of enactment of this Act;< <<<

    In this respect, the bill refers to existing regulations regarding injurious/non-injurious species. If you look up US Code 42:18, you come up with the following quote:

    >>>>(4) Nothing in this subsection shall restrict the importation of dead natural-history specimens for museums or for scientific collections, or the importation of domesticated canaries, parrots (including all other species of psittacine birds), or such other cage birds as the Secretary of the Interior may designate. <<<<

    Your Lories are safe under Federal regulations, but they (and MANY other animals) are covered under more restrictive state laws. States are allowed to have more restrictive laws, and HR669 specifically addresses the states (ie Hawaii, Florida, etc) and their existing or proposed laws in Section 10:

    SEC. 10. RELATIONSHIP TO STATE LAW.

    (a) In General- Nothing in this Act preempts or otherwise affects the application of any State law that establishes stricter requirements for importation, transportation, possession, sale, purchase, release, or breeding of, or bartering for, any nonnative wildlife species.

    Bird owners are safe, …for now. However, if you are into breeding exotic herps, you may see problems on the horizon. Some stated forbid the possession of native species, and if this law forbids the possession of most non-native species, …you just may find yourself between a rock and hard place.

    Cheers

  32. #32 Laurella Desborough
    April 17, 2009

    I would like to address the comments by Theraphosa which point to US Code 42.18. In the quote mentioned, the code section concerns those animals that are prohibited. As I understand it, HR 669 refers to the section of prohibited animals, but makes NO mention of any animals that would be approved (outside of the list of domestic farm animals and dogs and cats).

    Just because HR 669 refers to the prohibited animals and to that specific section of US Code 42.18, I do not believe that it follows that the other sections of the US Code are applicable under HR 669, such as Approved animals, since NO MENTION WAS MADE within HR 669 of Approved animals in reference to US Code 42.18.

    Also, I know two lawyers who routinely analyze legislation who have both carefully studied the bill, and both of them do not interpret the matter as Theraposa has done.

    I hope Theraposa will reply to this comment as this bill IMO still remains a serious problem for all who own species that are not specifically listed as Approved under HR 669.

  33. #33 Leigh Anne Serrano
    April 18, 2009

    Hello, I am most likely the least educated person to ever try and post here, but here goes: I am a just a dog groomer, I own a grooming business. I love animals. I own (or am owned by) 2 dogs, 3 Great Bill Parrots and a Red Devil. I agree, and hope that this is targeted at the “Pet Trade”. First, I really am not sure any of us have the right to own a creature that must be caged. Really, as much as I love my birds, and work tirelessly to see to their health and happiness, I know in my heart that they belong flying, soaring, jeez, you know, using their wings, they are birds. And most of all, these animals really are no longer “exotic”. Most breed much easier in captivity now, and are not so valuable. They are discarded as quickly and easily as cats and dogs. And what DO you do with a creature that lives on average 30-50 years, that’s on a CITES list, that no body wants? And educated people act differently than ignorant people. There are A LOT more ignorant parrot and snake owners than educated. I live in Va Beach and not too long ago a young woman was strangled by her pet boa while trying to medicate it. Guess what? There was a mass surge of of snake owners suddenly dumping HUGE snakes at shelters, rescues, lakes, parks, get the picture? Ignorant people don’t care. These animals deserve better. We as a country have proven that we don’t deserve to own them. But don’t despair,even if it did pass, it would just make owning pets inconvenient. Pot has been illegal forever and even some of our former presidents had some, they just didn’t inhale.

  34. #34 daedalus2u
    April 18, 2009

    An extremely important role that small helpless animals play as pets is for children to care for them and by doing so learn to love and care for small and helpless creatures and by doing so develop increased skill and motivation at nurturing small and helpless creatures.

    Harlow’s work on motherless monkeys has shown that female monkeys isolated from maternal contact at birth are absolutely terrible first time mothers, but that their mothering abilities improve remarkably with each subsequent birth. Caring for small helpless creatures invokes the developmental pathways responsible for nurturing behaviors.

    The most important small and helpless creatures are human infants. Adults need all the training and experience they can get over their entire lifetime to prepare them for the single most important human activity, that of being a parent and bringing up the next generation of humans. There is no shortage of parents who have insufficient skill and motivation to be good parents.

  35. #35 Laurella Desborough
    April 18, 2009

    I think that Leigh Anne Serrano has the right to HER opinion about the keeping and breeding of nonnative species. However, I do not think she has the RIGHT to tell the rest of us that we should not keep and breed these birds and animals.

    For example, the non-profit organization, Advocates for Bird Conservation, (www.abcbirdconservation.org) is dedicated to prevent extinction of avian species. One reason we are able to raise funds for this work is that people who OWN birds are interested in saving them in the wild. People who are FAMILIAR with a species are more interested in helping that species survive. Presently we are working with eclectus parrots on one Indonesian island and with vasa parrots in the USA.

    While it is true that the uneducated and inexperienced pet owners often do things that are not appropriate with their animals, these people are not necessarily in the majority of owners of nonnative birds and animals. At this point in time there are far more pet owners who are actively involved in providing excellent care for their pets.

    This refrain that birds belong in the wild, “flying free” is so much “Bambi” fantasy. In the REAL wilds, birds and animals must work very hard every day to find food, find a nest site and then protect eggs and young, all the while avoiding being killed by the many predators seeking them. When you talk with a field biologist about what is actually happening with creatures in the wild, you learn that life in the wild is quite precarious…not even including the greatest threat of habitat loss.

    This propaganda about birds and animals being given up by owners, as if it relates to huge numbers, is false. From the time that people have owned animals, there has been a need on the part of some owners to transfer ownership of their animals when they are old, ill, or become unable to care for their birds and animals. In the “old” days, prior to the nineties, when people had to give up their birds, they went to their vets, their bird clubs, and to breeders, and the end result was that these birds were appropriately transferred to new situations. Now that many people have decided that “rescue” and “sanctuary” make a fine business, (as well as a means for feeling self righteous), they have jumped on the overpopulation bandwagon. In some cases, they pressure people to give up their pet birds by saying the birds would be “better off” in a sanctuary! Which is of course, b.s. In other cases they request “funds” for “future care” of their pet.

    So, if someone doesn’t want to own a bird or animal, that is their choice. For the rest of us, if we want to keep and breed birds and animals because we want them to continue to be present on the planet, then that should be our choice. It is because of the knowledge and experience of people who do keep and breed nonnative species that those species in danger of extinction will most likely be saved. Extinction is forever. We want to save our birds.

    So, protect your right to keep and breed birds…go to http://www.capwiz.com/naiatrust/ and send a message to your Representative….NO ON HR 669!

  36. #36 Kevin Lenaghan
    April 18, 2009

    I agree with some of what Leigh Ann says: there are just too many “ignorant” people out there that have no clue how to care for animals that have complex needs. But if we were to take Leigh Ann’s logic a step or two, we would ban people from having children because there are people who batter and abuse their children, because they are ignorant and do not know how to care for a child.

    This is such a poorly constructed bill. It even redefines “importation” and overrides existing US Customs law. It provides no solution for pets other than than euthanasia. No doubt by some of those same ignorant people.

    The American environment is being decimated but it is not from animals that are being released by pet owners who wake up one day finally getting it that the chimp in the next room can eat their face, or the alligator at the foot of the bed can swallow their leg, or that boa constrictor curled up in the corner can and does squeeze the life out of other animals.

    But these animals are nothing compared to other non native species that invade the North American continent every single day. And, I am talking here about the seaborne animals that get dumped into the Great Lakes, and our harbors and our ports and our rivers when a commercial shipping vessel dumps the ballast that it picked up in another hemisphere. Nor the other VERY poisonous animals that come in with cargo like that huge, poisonous spider that was recently found with the bananas in a food store.

    This ill considered bill would do nothing for the Brown Tree Snake that decimated the island of Guam where the honorable congressional delegate comes from. But does it kill our so called “exotic” pets, which frankly are no longer exotic anymore as Leigh Ann says. They are, however, critically endangered and vulnerable. And as long as man continues to destroy and decimate their native environments, we are their last best hope for continued existence at all.

    This bill gets voted on April 23. PLEASE make your thoughts and comments known to your congressional representative.

    Visit http://www.capwiz.com/naiatrust/ and say not just NO but HELL NO!

    I am not even going to address HSUS or PETA. This bill has enough wrong with it that it does not need the addition of these two organizations. But, note well, that if this bill becomes law in any way, dogs and cats just became bigger targets on the horizon.

  37. #37 Flo
    April 18, 2009

    Thank you! This is a clear, concise explanation of the bill as I’ve seen anywhere. As the president of the Oahu parrot club (where everything is illegal :)) this bill is insane!! Me and some other birding people are going to be on a local talk show tomorrow talking about how bad this bill is. I hope you don’t mind if I borrow some of your points, they are excellent and stated better then I could have.

    Aloha…

  38. #38 Cathy
    April 18, 2009

    Laurella Desborough: This refrain that birds belong in the wild, “flying free” is so much “Bambi” fantasy. In the REAL wilds, birds and animals must work very hard every day to find food, find a nest site and then protect eggs and young, all the while avoiding being killed by the many predators seeking them. When you talk with a field biologist about what is actually happening with creatures in the wild, you learn that life in the wild is quite precarious…not even including the greatest threat of habitat loss.

    This is so true. As regards gerbils, which is my own little area of expertise: they only live an average of eight months in the wild. Their life in the wild is not a life of Disney-fied romance, where the animals skip and play in the grass and sunshine, at peace with the world. They are subject to famine, drought, disease, dominance skirmishes, and to the many predators that want to eat them. They are prey animals in the wild.

    Domesticated gerbils have a lifespan about four times as long as their wild relatives; they live about three years. They are sheltered and cared for.

    Gerbils, and other animals such as hamsters, will be extremely vulnerable to this legislation due to their short lifespan. Even an 18-month breeding ban due to any legal action would mean the dying out of all of these animals in this country. All of them. A frivolous action by anti-pet extremists could be the end of them. Once they’re gone, it’s too late to say “oops, sorry.”

    The United States is one of the biggest countries for the gerbil fancy; probably second only to the United Kingdom. Our breeders here help develop and sustain new lines and colors. Those of us dedicated to them are very interested in the genetic health of the species. Losing all of the gerbils in the United States would be a worldwide blow – and it could happen so easily through legislative ignorance.

  39. #39 Leigh Anne Serrano
    April 19, 2009

    Bambi? Are you serious? I think some people out there think They are Snow White, or possibly Dr. Dolittle. LIFE is precarious for ALL of us, in some way or another. The struggle to survive will always BE, no matter how many birds or gerbils you give a cozy cage to. I honestly cannot believe that Ms. Desborough professes life in captivity is preferable to doing what God intended a bird to do, Fly, because it’s a tough world out there. Since life is so precarious, what say you never leave the confines of your home, ever. Everything you need will be provided by a very kind and gentle Jolly Green Giant. How would you like your home in a year? In 5, 10? But lucky you, you are so well fed and protected, you get to live to be 100! Wake up Snow White!!!! And as for there not being a problem of unwanted abandoned Parrots in America, Wow, maybe ignorance makes some people sleep better at night. This bill the way it is written is absolutely ridiculous, and I would hope that it does not pass. But I sincerely hope that a better one is written to protect our eco-system here from imported species that could do it harm, ie, bees, spiders, vermin, etc. And I also hope that a separate law will come into effect that will hold breeder’s and anyone involved in the exotic pet trade accountable for the lives they deal in. An easy place to start would be to limit their numbers, limit the number of offspring they can produce and to track each and every one of them.

  40. #40 Bonnie Gill
    April 19, 2009

    Thank you as usual for a well thought out and articulate article. I also thank other posters on this blog for many good ideas. I have already written my congressman and made many of the points you expressed. HR 669 is so obviously aimed at the pet trade I have to wonder who is really behind it and why. PETA is an animal rights group that holds as dogma many strange ideas about the appropriate interaction between man and beast. Oddly enough I could find no propaganda or review of HR 669 on their web site. HSUS has some strange ideas as well, but I cannot imagine why anyone would disaprove of owning pets. We humans have kept them as long as we have been around, and there is no human culture on earth today that does not keep them. We use animals for food,work and research; but apparently we also crave the companionship of other species. If anyone has some inside knowledge about all the sponsors behind this bill I would like to hear about it.

    This bill is so poorly written I don’t see how it can pass, but I agree that it is only a warning signal for other attempts to come.

  41. #41 Cathy
    April 19, 2009

    As Laurella Desborough said, I think that Leigh Anne Serrano has the right to HER opinion about the keeping and breeding of nonnative species. However, I do not think she has the RIGHT to tell the rest of us that we should not keep and breed these birds and animals. And extinction is forever.

    I’d like to address another point in addition to my previous comments: the consequences of banning a breed. I think it would be more than just “inconvenient” to own an animal illegally.

    For those who might choose to still keep the animals illegally:

    1. It would be illegal, which has its own obvious consequences.

    2. Proper, high-quality, food and supplies would be far less available.

    3. Veterinary care would be less available or unavailable.

    What would happen to that exotic bird who needs medical care? The owner would not be able to just take it into the vet who specializes in avian exotics for treatment. How could the vet treat an illegally-owned animal? Would they be required to turn the owner in? And how many veterinarians would get education in the treatment of these birds? Why would they get this training? The animals would be illegal to own. There would be fewer owners, and those still owning them would be more circumspect about taking them in for care. Fewer vets would get training in this specialty. The specific medicine and equipment they would need to treat these creatures would be far less available to those who treat pet birds.

    For my own animals, what would happen to the elderly gerbil with overgrown teeth who needed his teeth clipped? What would happen to the one who needed a scent gland tumor removed? The one who had an aural choleacystoma that he was picking at? The one who had a papilloma on his gums that was interfering with his eating? The one who broke his leg and needed medication for a week to make him more comfortable? The one who needed specific antibiotics? All of those conditions can be curable with proper care by an exotic specialist. But with no vets, no proper medication, no specialized tools…

    And what of the illegally-owned animal with an incurable condition who has reached the stage of the disease where humane euthanasia is, sadly, sometimes necessary? If they bring the animal in for this, will the veterinarian be required to turn the owner in for keeping an illegal species?

    4. The loss of a support network with other experienced owners of that species.

    5. Those who would choose to breed the animals illegally would be breeding less healthy animals. They would be less healthy not only due to the lack of veterinary health care and high-quality food and supplies, but also because the breeder would not be able to bring in “new blood” to improve the line. And those would be just the breeders who breed them because they love the species. This doesn’t even cover those who would start breeding opportunistically after private ownership of the species has been made illegal.

  42. #42 Cathy
    April 19, 2009

    Cholesteatoma, not choleacystoma, sorry.

  43. #43 Kathleen
    April 19, 2009

    Read the bill today and it says that the DOI Secretary

    . . . shall promulgate regulations that establish a process for assessing the risk of all nonnative wildlife species PROPOSED FOR IMPORTATION into the United States . . .

    Would the approved/unapproved lists be developed based on proposals submitted for the importation of particular species or is the Secretary being charged with creating master approved/unapproved lists? The common assumption seems to be that there’s going to be a master list.

  44. #44 Karen
    April 19, 2009

    Thank you for an excellent summary of the proposed law and research into its potential consequences for those of us who keep and love our exotics. As a member of a turtle and tortoise group, I will admit that there are species that I would like to see prohibited from sale in the US. That is because ignorant sales people do not educate potential owners as to the unique qualities and proclivities of exotic tortoises and turtles, and many of those unfortunate creatures are dumped in environs not suited to their needs (not to mention jeopardizing native tortoise species), or added to the numerous ones already in our rescues and and club adoption inventories.

    However, that being said, there are so many loving keepers of exotic birds, reptiles and small mammals who would be penalized for their choice of animal companions. And the possibility of not being able to will, say an African Grey parrot or exotic tortoise, to one’s children, but having to have the animal euthanized because the owner died, is outrageous, and just another assault on our freedom by the political party currently in power. Not to be partisan on this, but the author of the bill is a Democrat. This bill also proves that being able to be elected is not a guarantee of intelligence and ability to coherently write a bill that will solve a problem, not create a myriad of them worse than the original. Most states already have in place, laws regarding the possession, sale, breeding, etc of exotic animals, and have placed prohibitions on those with potential to be damaging to native wildlife and the state’s natural environment. This entire issue is one of states’ rights and responsibilities and should NOT be handled by the federal government. Why don’t these supposed legislative geniuses do some research before wasting time on broadly prohibitive legislation that is merely an excuse for taking away freedom of choice under the guise of “environmental protection”?

    Thank you again for a clear and concise look at this bill. I have sent your blog to many fellow animal lovers and owners for their education and to spread on to others to join the fight against this bill. Many of us have already sent tea bags to the White House or to our elected representatives, and they should be grateful we’re not sending our pets’ droppings to express our displeasure with this latest bit of excrement from Congress.

  45. #45 Laurella Desborough
    April 19, 2009

    Leigh Anne wrote: And as for there not being a problem of unwanted abandoned Parrots in America, Wow, maybe ignorance makes some people sleep better at night. ….. And I also hope that a separate law will come into effect that will hold breeder’s and anyone involved in the exotic pet trade accountable for the lives they deal in. An easy place to start would be to limit their numbers, limit the number of offspring they can produce and to track each and every one of them. end quote.

    Well, I believe the one and only scientific study on re-homed (as Leigh Anne said, abandoned and unwanted), birds is available on the Gabriel Foundation website. It seems the main species that are involved are cockatiels and conures. Also it appears that approximately 5,000 birds were noted in that national study. Now, 5,000 re-homed birds is not a large number when you consider the total number of pet birds in the U.S. is in the millions!

    However, I think the real problem with many re-homed birds, (besides divorce, losing a job, losing a home or being ill or dying), is lack of education about birds, their appropriate care, their real needs and so on.

    As regards urging the passage of laws to control the number of birds raised by breeders, I think we can all see just how wonderful that would be…all we have to do is look at HR 669 and see how cleverly well written this law is. When you have legislators writing laws about matters they know very little about, and they consult with those who have an anti-animal agenda, then you have a disastrous law such as HR 669. I don’t think we want to go there.

  46. #46 Maryann Brooke Andeson
    April 20, 2009

    The USA , the greatest country in the world or so I though as I am 53 years old and do love America.
    Has someone somewhere with so little left to do on their own
    agenda decided to go and attack innocent creatures who are cared for and loved and treated like family members.
    There are so many issues that Congress should be looking to start making new bills for especially in this economy, so
    please do what is right and stop looking to cause more pain for more people.
    Anyone who votes for this bill is a disgrace to their seat.

  47. #47 Caryn Baruch
    April 20, 2009

    I have a pet cockatiel, a bird that is originally from Australia. Do I have to move there in order to save my bird?

  48. #48 Otolemur
    April 21, 2009

    Posted by: Caryn Baruch

    “I have a pet cockatiel, a bird that is originally from Australia. Do I have to move there in order to save my bird?”

    Under this proposed Bill you may be grandfathered in to keep it but should you ever decide to relocate to another state or country you then have no options for your bird unless they put his species on a backwards-reasoning “approved list”. Under no circumstance would I consider moving to Australia with any pet as they have some of the most stringent import/exportation laws concerning animals on the entire planet. Whatever the case, under this proposed Bill you’re stuck in your native state for the duration of your bird’s life if you intend to keep it.

    http://www.NOHR669.com : ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT TO LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!

  49. #49 michele
    April 21, 2009

    appauling!! this bill is ridicules! In my opinion the biggest animal out there causing damage to the enviroment,ecology, as well as other animals is the human themselfs, why cant we do something about that! im all for controlling the illegal import of exotics, but there are plenty of caring individuals out there who do captive breeding, for the love of these animals. again there are to many exotics who get “dumped” because people did not do their homework before they purchased any animals{burmese pythons that have been increasinly dumped in the everglades of florida for instance} again human error, and now we want to punish those responsible pet onwers and the animals them selves with euthanasia!! if you move or travel across state lines. Dont take it out on the animal!! i have two beardies, one parrot, and a hedgehog and i be damned if i get rid of my babies!! there has to be a better way!
    Very disgrunteled pet lover!

  50. #50 Forrest
    April 21, 2009

    There’s a lot of confusion over what this bill will do. No one’s pets will be taken away. In fact, the bill grandfathers in pets owned before its enactment. What it allows is screening of the potential risks an imported animal poses to the environment, the economy and human health.

    I recommend people also read the actual bill and read what others have to say about it. This document from the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species clears up a lot of misconceptions about the bill and its impact on the pet industry.

    http://www.necis.net/files/myths-vs-facts-on-hr-669.pdf

  51. #51 "GrrlScientist"
    April 21, 2009

    Okay, let’s make one thing clear: i have never ever said here or anywhere else, that HR 669 proposes to take away anyone’s animals — UNLESS that person violates the law, as written in HR 669.

  52. #52 Shayna
    April 22, 2009

    I don’t live in the U.S, I live in Canada and this law would affect us just as much as you. It will affect everyone! Our animals are imported from the States. As a reptile and amphibian owner this law saddens me.. I am going to college in the fall to work with these amazing creatures. What will happen to me if this passes? I certainly do not want to live working a desk job. It’s also difficult to deal with thinking about the future without these animals, someday when I have children I WANT them to understand and not be afraid. This law needs to be stopped not only for the sake of the citizens of the United States, but for people all over the world.

  53. #53 Steph
    April 22, 2009

    I’m honestly split here. I’m not sure what to feel about this. It’s like they meant to do the right thing, but went completely the wrong way about it. Not being 100% opposed to what people here keep calling “extremist” organizations, I understand why there’s a desire to stop this side of the pet trade. In the end, I’d say vastly more animals suffer than benefit as a result of pet stores, impulse buying, and idiots who don’t know what they’re doing owning pets. I’m looking at this issue from the side of what’s best for the animals- not the people (not because I don’t care about people, but because the economic impact, etc, has already been plenty analyzed).
    Since my teenage years, all through college, I’ve been doing research projects on exotic animal keeping and legislation regarding it. Every time, the same conclusion comes about: it’s the animal who loses in the end. Sometimes, both human and animal do, too. Sometimes, even worse, both human, animal and environment do. Still, this isn’t an easily polarized issue- while aquaculture has decimated some species of fish and coral, it’s also brought some fish back from the brink of extinction, for example. Similarly, while many zoos are basically animal prisons, others instill a great passion in animal welfare and concern for conservation in people. I know the latter was true for me as a kid.
    In an issue of greys, it doesn’t help to apply either a black or white solution on it. Having no laws would further enable animal cruelty, while having too strong of laws (like this) would penalize responsible pet owners. Our current laws do not work while exotic animal sanctuaries are still bursting at the seams, most herps die young and most birds go through multiple owners during their lifespans.
    So, what do we do? Well, not this. This is a complex issue, and they’re really jumping the gun by spreading a blanket solution over the top of this. I strongly doubt it will pass while there are so many small animal, bird, fish and herp owners, but if it did, it would be catastrophic for those who love their pets and probably not even solve the problem, especially considering that the biggest invasive threat animals are left untouched. Large scale issues can always be traced back to individuals. The problem here is individual’s treatment of their animals and lack of regard for environment. It’s hard to say what to do about that, besides education, outreach, and increasing awareness. There’s a right and wrong way to do lots of things, including the ownership of exotic animals. To make it always right or always wrong is ridiculously simplistic.

  54. #54 Murphy
    April 22, 2009

    Bravo! I think your analysis of the proposed bill is the best I’ve seen so far and I applaud that you respond to all of the comments that attempt to derail it. Keep up the good work!

  55. #55 Dr. Terry Cullen
    April 23, 2009

    This bill and it’s conceptualizers are anathema to conservation. This is the sort of emotional, thinly disguised tripe that the “Animal Rights” extremists ustilize to promote their ill-conceived agendas. Virtually all of what has transpired, and all that they are “alledgedly” trying to prevent could have been dealt with by quality, targeted educational efforts. Yet, all we do is legislate and regulate when what we need to do Is EDUCATE! Not one cent is being spent on education of the general public. It’s surprisingly easy to keep the “honest people honest”, one just has to give them the CORRECT information in a format that is readily understood. I know, I do it constantly with lectures, programs, etc.. I have worked with critically endangered wildlife for over 40 years. The very last thing we need right now is for the general populace to become even further disconnected from animals and the natural world by this sort of “knee-jerk” legislation.

  56. #56 Paul V
    April 23, 2009

    LAS posted: “… doing what God intended… ”

    Wow, way to kill your credibility in 4 words or less.

  57. #57 jan
    April 23, 2009

    here in California, the Nonnative Invasive Species Council acts as a corporate arm to spread pesticides all over California.

  58. As one of (if not the only) pet bug rescue center on the west coast. We of course have quite a bit to say about the proposed legislation of HR 669. Most notably, it destroys the hard work that responsible arachnoculturists have performed for years. Educating children about the role arachnids and inverts play in the ecosystem. Captive breeding to keep from depleting native environments. As well as captive breeding native invert species to be returned to their respective environments replenishing arachnids that were previously endangered due to deforestation or over collection due to irresponsible collection practices. Sure, tarantulas and scorpions are not as cuddly as the family cat. But they are still loved companion animals that we appreciate, respect, and preserve. I can’t fathom such an ill thought out measure that would destroy such hard work in one sweeping stroke just to appease PETA’s cause. PETA recently commented they are not campaigning for HR 669 though the bill shows they are a major contributor. Get the word out and lets ensure that proper scientific study can continue, proper hobbyist care can continue, and education about our beautiful animals can continue.

    Bill Daniels

    Co-Director PNWIRC

  59. #59 DB
    April 23, 2009

    This bill must be stopped at any costs. While I understand that this bill is protecting against “invasive” species, they are taking what are domesticated animals and declaring them wildlife! Most rodents, lizards and birds stated in this bill are DOMESTICATED. These people do not seem to understand that all the above creatures are domesticated, as pets; and, agreed with the article, why do they not include farm animals and cats and dogs, which CLEARLY impact the invironment negatively? Plus, people who already have pets understand what it means to protect them – to euthanize them rather than bring them with you is painful to both the owner and the pet. Plus, most of these pets would not survive in the wild! And, if people are attached to their pets and to “Save” them they may release them into the wild, doing the exact opposite of what this bill intends! All pet owners, whether their pets are represented or not, need to speak up. This bill has too many holes and flaws – and the people need to speak up against this injustice to animals.

  60. #60 Dann Siems
    April 29, 2009

    Who is pushing this legislation? Can someone help me “follow the money?”

  61. #61 SueGeek
    May 25, 2009

    Thank you so much for a wonderfully eloquent blog as well as the best statement against
    HR 699 that I have found! I hope you don’t mind but I sent a link to your blog to congressman Paul Ryan. I have already emailed him about this bill but I still feel it
    necassary to continue contacting our Congressmen about it.

    There are a ot of very intelligent people commenting on this blog but in my humble opinion, Laurella Desborough is by far the best!

  62. #62 SueGeek
    May 25, 2009

    Thank you so much for a wonderfully eloquent blog as well as the best statement against
    HR 699 that I have found! I hope you don’t mind but I sent a link to your blog to
    congressman Paul Ryan. I have already emailed him about this bill but I still feel it
    necassary to continue contacting our Congressmen about it.

    There are a lot of very intelligent people commenting on this blog but in my
    humble opinion, Laurella Desborough is by far the best!

  63. #63 concerned petowner
    May 29, 2009

    This resolution, if passed, will ban the import, export, transport, breeding, and private ownership of virtually every bird, mammal, reptile, and fish species currently kept as pets.

    The real agenda is masked under the guise of “The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act” or HR 669. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and The Nature Conservancy; are part of a coalition pushing HARD for adopting this ridiculous bill without amendments. Do NOT underestimate these groups. They are very well-funded, highly-organized, and are currently set-up to help the public push this agenda on our politicians.

    Should this resolution be adopted into law as written, it will have a devastating impact on every pet owner and pet-related business in the United States. Action is needed TODAY to protect your rights to keep your pets!

  64. #64 Shawn
    June 7, 2009

    Oh my gosh. I can’t believe this. I’m 14 and i have put my life into trying to become a reptile breeder. I love my ball pythons and my monitors,geckos,and bearded dragons. I can’t believe that all the time ive spent trying to make this my life and career that it might end here. I can’t imagine the 10+ year breeders either…

  65. #65 s.g.
    July 6, 2009

    This is the most retarded law i have ever heard of. Not only is it not well thought out it will basicaly kill off any non exempted animals while some of the exempted ones are some of the most harmful. Who is the idiot who thought of this god damb law.

  66. #66 Best in Flock
    July 8, 2009

    So what exactly was the outcome of this, and what’s next? I feel like simply having this bill stopped in the House can’t be the last word; surely the backers will try this again. What can we do proactively to stop nonsense like this from being introduced again?

  67. #67 Chris
    November 23, 2009

    I am an owner/Buyer of a pet cocatiel and bought him/her from a local breeder and obtained him at 7 weeks. He/her was young and very friendly as a youngster. busy life I have with a dog training business, sm. mini farm etc. Sunny , the cocatiel has been on the back burner, I taught him to talk some words, He loves repeating them to me through out the day , and i love chating back to him! How ever I will never support any selling of these beautiful Birds for domestic pleasure any more and never again. I would love to travel to So. America and release him …but I feel like this may a death sentance as he may not know what to do. I will never purchase a bird to be caged again! However Sunny will share his life with me until the end ..because he does not know what to do for Survival! and with out me …will not live. So sory Mr. Sunny Chris

  68. #68 Tarra
    December 1, 2009

    Okay, first of all, you all need to actually read the bill. Species that are already domesticated are exempt from regulation. YOU CAN KEEP YOUR PETS PEOPLE. AND PET STORES CAN KEEP SUPPLYING THEM. If you’re a pet owner, I assume you have an interest in animal welfare and survival. Don’t get fooled by advocates for “pets” that use hyperbolic tactics to discredit regulatory legislation. this is about destructive, invasive species – predators, extreme r-selected aquatics (i.e. zebra mussels), disease-vectors, voracious herbivores – that can escape, live on their own and cause severe damage to U.S. biota.

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