Court Ruling Creates Opportunity to Improve Management of Nonnative Fish and Wildlife in the United States

The injurious wildlife provisions under the Lacey Act (U.S. Code, volume 18, section 42(a)(1)) are used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to regulate importation and movement of nonnative species in the United States. Under this act, “importation into the United States, any territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any possession of the United States, or any shipment between the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any possession of the United States” of injurious wildlife is prohibited, except by permit for zoological, educational, medical, or scientific purposes (U.S. Code, volume 18, section 42(a)(1)). In addition to banning importation into the United States and movement between the listed jurisdictions, since the 1960s this act has been further interpreted to prohibit interstate movement of injurious wildlife species between individual states of the continental United States. Under the Lacey Act, wild mammals, wild birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, mollusks, and crustaceans that are determined to be “injurious to human beings, to the interests of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, or to wildlife or the wildlife resources of the United States” may be listed as injurious wildlife (U.S. Code, volume 18, section 42(a)(1)). The listing process is initiated by the USFWS or a petition from an outside source followed by an evaluation of scientific and economic data by the USFWS. The USFWS may then publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register, evaluate any new data and comments, and then publish in the Federal Register a final rule listing the species or an explanation of why no listing was done (USFWS 2017). Congress also has the authority to list injurious wildlife species by direct amendment of the Lacey Act.

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