Prehistoric Pets has long worked with a wide variety of species of large constrictors, over a span of many years. During that time, we have come to an intimate understanding of the animals we have worked with, their temperature and environmental needs, personalities, reproductive and feeding capabilities. With this background and some additional research it becomes clear the animals recently added to the Lacey act are neither capable of living outside of their current establishment in the Everglades or pose a reasonable threat to humans.
Today the listing of of 4 large constricting snake species as injurious under the Lacey Act officially goes into effect. At Prehistoric Pets we have had many customers, friends, and fans who have been calling in to find out exactly what this means to them. To provide a clear answer to the most commonly asked questions, today’s blog will highlight the most important changes with links to the government agencies where further resources and information can be found.
Q: When is the rule in effect?
A: Today, March 23, 2012
Q: What animals are included?
A: Burmese Python, North African Python, Southern African Python, Yellow Anaconda, their eggs and hybrids.
Q: What does the listing entail?
A: No importation or interstate transport of the included animals.
Q: Is it still legal to own, breed, and display these animals?
A: Yes, if there are no further restrictions in your area of residence, these animals may still be kept for pets, display, and breeding, but at no point can move across state lines.
Q: If I move to another state can I bring my listed pet?
A: No. There is absolutely no interstate transport of the 4 listed species within the United States for personal purposes. All interstate transport of the listed species will result in penalty under the Lacey Act.
Q: What options do I have as an owner of one of these animals who is relocating to another state?
A: There are some options as provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife below.
Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s Pet Pathway Toolkit: www.petpathwaytoolkit.com
Q: Can these animals be rescued from out of state?
A: No. Rescues may only care for animals currently within their state.
Q: Can these animals be purchased online or at trade shows?
A: Only if their original location is within your state. For example to purchase a Burmese python from Prehistoric Pets you must live within the state of California. If you live in the state of Colorado you will be unable to purchase a Burmese python from Prehistoric Pets and instead must locate a Colorado based breeder.
Q: Can these animals be exported out of the country?
A: Yes, if there are no US stops during transport. For example if a shipment from Los Angeles International Airport is headed to London’s Heathrow International Airport the flight cannot make a stop at John F Kennedy International Airport, this would be considered interstate transport between California and New York and furthermore a violation of the Lacey Act. NOTE: This listing also adds these animals in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) listing requiring CITES export permits.
Q: Are there any exceptions to the ban on importation or interstate transport?
A: There are only 4 exceptions to this rule which all must receive authorized and permitted approval BEFORE transport. These exceptions are medical (not veterinary), scientific, zoological, and education.
Q: Can I perform educational presentations outside of my state?
A: Yes, if the correct permitting requirements completed BEFORE transport. See below. NOTE: Please allow at least 60 days for permit processing.
Q: What steps are required to meet permitting requirements?
A: 1. Application Form 3-200-42 (www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-42.pdf)
2. PERMANENT Housing in Double Escape-Proof Containment at ALL TIMES
Q: What does PERMANENT Housing in Double Escape-Proof Containment mean?
A: Under permit requirements all applied animals, including their offspring, must be kept in double escape-proof containment at ALL TIMES. Double escape-proof containment, just as it sounds, is defined as housing the animal in a secured area, within another equally as secured area. In regular housing this would mean in a locked cage within a locked room/building. During transport this would mean in a container within a larger secured container. If the animal is to be handled during an educational presentation it must be within a room with a closed door, which is within another room with a closed door. NOTE: This housing requirement is not only required during the permitted activity but for the life of the animal AND ALL OFFSPRING.
Q: What are the penalties for violating the Lacey Act?
A. “Violations of the Lacey Act provisions may be prosecuted through either civil or criminal enforcement actions. With respect to potential criminal penalties, a two-tiered penalty scheme exists, creating both misdemeanor and felony offenses, distinguished by a defendant’s knowledge of the underlying law. For a Lacey Act violation to be a felony, the defendant must have knowingly imported or exported fish or wildlife or plants in violation an underlying law or regulation, or knowingly engaged in conduct during the offense that involved the sale or purchase of, the offer for sale or purchase of, or the intent to sell or purchase plants or wildlife with a market value of over $350 knowing that the fish or wildlife or plants were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of an underlying law or regulation. A misdemeanor penalty requires that the defendant “in the exercise of due care” should have known the fish or wildlife or plants were taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of an underlying law or regulation. “
“Felony criminal sanctions are provided for violations involving imports or exports, or violations of a commercial nature in which the value of the wildlife is in excess of $350. A misdemeanor violation was established, with a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 1 year, or both. Civil penalties up to $10,000 were provided. However, the Criminal Fines Improvement Act of 1987 increased the fines under the Lacey Act for misdemeanors to a maximum of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for organizations. Maximum fines for felonies were increased to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations.
Those enforcing the Act are authorized to carry firearms, make qualified warrantless arrests for felony and misdemeanor violations of any law of the U.S. when enforcing the Act, search and seize under Attorney General guidelines, issue subpoenas and warrants, inspect vessels, vehicles, aircraft, packages, crates, and containers on arrival in the United States from outside the United States or prior to departure from the United States.”