Why or why not worry about the Lacey Act?

I just want to understand what exactly is going on with the Lacey Act. As I understand it (and please correct me if I’m wrong), an amendment to it is included in the so-called “America competes” bill, which is soon to be sent to the U.S. Senate. Exotic pet owners, breeders, and enthusiasts are concerned that this will make it more difficult if not impossible to own or acquire any animal that is not a dog, cat, or “farm animal”. Some say that it will create a white list, and that any animal not on that list will be considered “injurious” and therefore illegal. Still others have said that any animals that are currently legal will still be allowed. But what exactly does the bill say? Is the whitelist thing real, but all currently legal pets will automatically be added to that list? What problems is this amendment to the Lacey Act intended to solve and how will it do so? What concerns are there with the proposed implementation? Please cite your sources when discussing, because people with differing interests have been saying different things, and I’d like for everyone who’s concerned (myself included) to be able to see for ourselves what’s accurate.


Here’s the text of the amendment I found:

According to US ARK, this amendment would do the following:

  1. Provide that the Lacey Act bans the interstate transport of species listed as injurious. Specifically, it replaces Lacey’s current language ‘‘shipment between the continental United States’’ with ‘‘transport between the States.”
  2. Create a “white list” of species that can be imported. This means that any animal (reptile, amphibian, fish, bird, mammal) that is not on the white list is by default treated as potentially injurious and is banned from importation.
  3. Create a new authority allowing FWS to use an “emergency designation” that becomes effective immediately after being published in the Federal Register unless an extension of no more than 60 days is allowed. That means no due process, public input, hearings, advanced notice, etc. for injurious listings.
  4. Permit FWS to not allow importation if a species has not been imported in “minimal quantities” (to be defined) in the year prior to the enactment of this Act.
  5. The effective date would be one year after the enactment of this Act.

I don’t see any language in the amendment that would imply that any animal currently considered legal to own as a pet would automatically be added to this “white list.” It does seem to limit the ban on importation of a species to those that have not been imported in “minimal quantities” in the year prior, but it doesn’t say what those quantities are.

Does it not actually list the whitelist?

I feel like the intention is for safe pets to be on the whitelist, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some fall through the cracks.

That’s what I was wondering. I haven’t been able to find any source that says what exactly will be on the white list and what will be excluded. And I don’t understand why we would consider passing something without first knowing what’s going to be in it. If proponents of these amendments believe that it is not going to affect pet owners and businesses, then shouldn’t they spell out in the bill itself what is going to be on the white list?

If I’m wrong, and there really is a list out there somewhere of what animals are going to be included, someone please let me know. But like I said, the actual language in the actual bill does not mention any specific animals.