Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

HR 669: Request for Information

I am writing an OpEd argument against HR 669, The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, and I have pitched an analysis of HR 669 to a magazine where it will be published very rapidly. One thing that I want to include in my writing is mention of any conservation efforts or scientific research that will be negatively impacted by HR 669, and I thought you might be able to help me. If your conservation program or scientific research (or that of your colleagues) could be negatively impacted by HR 669, can you email a statement that includes these details; (1) your research species (2) a basic description of your work and (3) how HR 669 will negatively impact your work. Feel free to write anything else you wish to say, but your response MUST have those three details so I can use them in my writing.

Of course, the identities of all who respond will be kept strictly confidential UNLESS the respondent says otherwise.

What is HR 669?

Take Action Now.

HR 669 Links:

Will HR 669 Transform Your Exotic Animals into Illegal Aliens?

My detailed analysis of HR 669 and its impacts.

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

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

The New England Aquarium Speaks Out Against HR 669.

PetSmart Speaks out Against HR 669.


  1. #1 Ann
    April 16, 2009

    have you tried contacting any zoos? they almost always have breeding programs.

    also — try the birdman of las vegas — he is an entertainer BUT he is actively involved in conservation of the california condors, along with other species.

    good luck!

  2. #2 Betsy
    April 16, 2009

    Ameca splendens is a fish relatively common in the aquarium trade here in Boston that is extinct in the wild, and might become truly extinct if this bill passes.

    There are also many aquarists captively breeding and propagating marine species that are threatened in the wild, both corals and fish. The knowledge acquired by these captive breeding programs helps to both ease collection pressure on the reefs and to provide knowledge that can be used to understand and help the multitude of wild reefs that are facing extinction. The Banggai Cardinal is a prime example of a fish that is seriously threatened in the wild, but that has been successfully captively bred in the United States. Aquacultured and captively propagated corals also abound in the hobby.

    And we all know how invasive and dangerous marine aquarium species are to the Great Lakes and other United States water systems! Waaaaay worse than goldfish 😉

  3. #3 Carrie Burrows
    April 17, 2009

    Thank you !

  4. #4 alex
    April 21, 2009

    I breed crested geckos and this bill could cause me to lose my animals. Even if I seperate the females from the males she can still produce fertile eggs for a year or so. I am using the money I get from selling the babies to pay for college. I know of so many species that are doing better in private collections as far as breeding goes then in zoos.

  5. #5 HerpDude
    April 22, 2009

    Not going to happen, GrrlScientist. Most, if not all, Conservation Biologists support the intent of HR669. Further, a number of NGO scientists are working with congressional staff to improve the bill. You see, the SUBcommittee hearing tomorrow is just the first step for the bill. It can and will be improved. But all of the people like you who are carrying PIJAC’s water and pushing the grossly inaccurate ‘Pets in Peril’ video won’t be involved. You have already shown yourselves to be irrational and unreasonable. You don’t care about stopping invasive species. You just want to protect your “right” to own or breed any exotic pet you choose, regardless of any consequences.

    For your information, the cane toad did not receive a risk analysis before importation to Australia. That early failure is one reason why Australia has one of the strictest animal import laws in the world; far beyond what HR669 would do.

    HR669 is good news for Conservation Biologists fighting invasive species. For them, and scientists in general, HR669 will have no negative effect. Yes, some people who want to work on a very invasive species may have to get extra permits, but no one’s research is going to be shut down.

    A point you failed to catch in your “detailed analysis” is that a species may also be exempted if it is too common and widespread for a ban to have any effect. Feral cats and pigs, in particular, are in every state, so trying to “ban” them would be pointless. And time can be better spent trying to stop a new threat from arising.

    Another point you missed is that “wildlife” does not include plants. Plants are regulated by USDA-APHIS, not USFWS. Albeit poorly regulated, but with greater effect than animal trade regulations. One of your posters admitted to owning an “injurious species” supposedly banned by the Lacey Act. Another victory for the pet trade. But I digress. So it is not inexplicable why HR 669 “ignores the tremendous economic, environmental, and habitat damage caused by invasive exotic plant species.” There are already many people working on invasive plants, myself included. There needs to be an equal effort made for invasive animals.

    Another point of general ignorance I should mention is ballast water, a serious vector for invasive species. A bill is working its way around to get EPA and/or the Coast Guard to address this issue, since it is under THEIR jurisdiction, not the USFWS’s. Neither are ballast organisms “imported.” So, no, that’s not in HR 669, either.

    Environmental and conservation organizations are serious about crafting workable and reasonable legislation regarding this complex issue. But instead of a dialogue with the pet trade, they got PIJAC. Farmers, the Farm Bureau. And so on. Outright rejection mostly, if not totally, driven by PIJAC propaganda. Aided and abetted by people like you. Congratulations. You are an industry tool.

    -Rick Clayton
    Invasion Biologist
    (actual scientist)

  6. #6 Mark Robertson
    April 23, 2009

    I’m a long term (30 yrs) wildlife biologist from Florida and don’t support HR669. The majority of damage I have seen over the years comes from species not included on the list (feral cats, dogs, hogs, goats and cattle). If these folks were really serious about about protecting our native species, why don’t they go to the root of the problem instead of pandering to PETA and the USHS?

  7. #7 Bob O'H
    April 23, 2009

    HerpDude – read the bill carefully:

    A point you failed to catch in your “detailed analysis” is that a species may also be exempted if it is too common and widespread for a ban to have any effect.

    This is only for the preliminary assessment of species: after that there is no provision for species being too difficult to ban.

    HR669 is good news for Conservation Biologists fighting invasive species. For them, and scientists in general, HR669 will have no negative effect.

    Except that in the current version there is no exemption for scientific study of invasive species, other than importation of the species. As it is written, it will be illegal for you to take invasives into your lab.

    Sure, all these problems are solvable, but the bill does need to be re-written. At the moment it looks like a mess.

  8. #8 M-cubed
    August 1, 2009

    Your article was well researched and written. HR669 appears to be a knee jerk reaction to a problem that as usual, the government fails to do a thorough job researching. I am a science teacher who finally has a lab to teach in for the first time in my teaching career and I have many habitats in my classroom that were used by the former teacher. The kids miss the classroom critters very much, so I was considering getting a reptile for the classroom, specifically, an African Fat-tailed gecko. How are educational institutions such as schools impacted? My daughter who volunteers at a science museum is also concerned for the exotic animals they have on display there. She handles all sorts as part of her job of educating the public. What will become of programs like these? I agree with you that the reckless abandonment of former exotic pets is a problem, but surely there are better ways to stop this!

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