Federal Wildlife Laws and Lawyers

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 United States and International Wildlife Laws

The purpose of federal wildlife laws and regulations is to conserve the world’s wildlife resources.

During the last one hundred years, the United States has adopted many wildlife laws and regulations and accepted international treaties to conserve the world’s legacy of wild animals and plants and their habitats.

Where Are the Wildlife Trade Hotspots?

The wildlife trade offers a special issue in several places of the globe. The phrase “wildlife trade hotspots” refers to these regions.

The international boundaries of China, important commercial hubs in East/Southern Africa and Southeast Asia, the eastern frontiers of the European Union, many Mexican markets, and sections of the Caribbean, Indonesia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands are among them.

What U.S. Agencies Regulate Federal Wildlife Laws?

Many agencies are responsible for the regulation and enforcement of wildlife legislation. Customs, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Agriculture, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Department of Commerce are among these agencies.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is authorized by various conservation-related laws, treaties, and regulations. These numerous laws provide a foundation and specific rules for most of the work that the Service does locally and overseas.

Laws made by Congress often need extra specifics so that everyone affected understands what is and isn’t permitted. Congress has given the Fish and Wildlife Service authority to supplement statutes with extra rules or “regulations.”

Regulations have the authority of law. Therefore, they go through a rigorous procedure before being placed into place.

All proposed regulations are subject to public inspection and comment before being implemented. The Fish & Wildlife Service makes it official and publishes it in the Federal Register once they are certain that the rule is required and correctly written.

What Are Wildlife State Laws or Regulations?

Wildlife native to a state is often governed by that state. Most states have their own rules governing the import of non-native species and the regulation of intrastate commerce.

What Is the Lacey Act?

The Lacey Act’s objective is to assist foreign nations and each state in enforcing its wildlife protection laws. It is meant to counter wildlife trafficking.

Under the Lacey Act, it is illegal to export, import, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any wildlife seized or held in violation of any foreign, state, federal, or Indian tribal law.

What Is CITES?

In 1975, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was founded, an international accord between governments worldwide. CITES strives to guarantee that commerce in wild plants and animals does not harm their capacity to live.

Countries that have willingly agreed to be bound by CITES are subject to its legal rules. Even if it does not supersede national laws, each country must establish its own legislation to ensure that it is implemented at the national level.

Why Is CITES Important?

CITES is critical because of the scale of global commerce. Millions of plant and animal specimens are exchanged each year globally in the estimated billion-dollar wildlife trade.

The following are the components of the trade:

  1. Timber
  2. Living plants and animals
  3. Wooden musical instruments
  4. Items created from wild animals and vegetation
  5. Products made of rare leather

Due to the extent of animal and plant trade, several populations have been threatened with decline and possible extinction. The Convention on International Trading in Endangered Species (CITES) controls the international trade of wild plants and animals.

Annually, Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora issue about one million CITES permits and certificates.

People may benefit much from efficiently regulating wildlife trade, such as ensuring sustainable livelihoods and maintaining ecosystems and the important services they offer.

What Are the CITES Regulations?

CITES places limits on international commerce. For instance, the Convention mandates that every import, export, re-export, and introduction of a species on its list be authorized via a licensing system.

Species are classified into three Appendices based on the amount of protection they require:

  • Appendix I trade is only authorized in exceptional situations (Species Threatened with Extinction)
  • Appendix II comprises species that aren’t necessarily on the verge of extinction, but their commerce must be controlled to avoid use that might threaten their conservation.
  • Species protected in at least one country that have sought help from other CITES parties are included in Appendix III.

Management Authorities must be appointed by each Party to the Convention to manage the licensing system. They must also choose scientific specialists to advise them on how commerce impacts different species.

To import or export CITES-listed species, correct paperwork must be acquired at ports of entry or departure.

CITES stipulates that Parties to the Convention abstain from dealing in listed species in any other manner than in accordance with the Convention, adopt adequate enforcement procedures, prohibit and penalize trade that violates the Convention, and confiscate specimens that have been unlawfully traded.

Illegal wildlife trading stymies conservation efforts while also harming the economy, society, and ecology. Organized criminal organizations target some CITES-listed species because they are lucrative commodities.

Organized wildlife trafficking, like other major crimes such as human, drug, and gun trafficking, must be handled through law enforcement operations.

No country, organization, or group can tackle illicit wildlife trafficking independently. Effective coordination and teamwork between the range, transit, and destination States, as well as between all necessary entities, such as border controls, customs, police, and the legal system, are vital.

What Is the Wild Bird Conservation Act?

The Wild Bird Conservation Act forbids or regulates the importation of CITES-protected exotic bird species.

The statute, nevertheless, enables the importation of select exotic birds from accredited international breeding facilities. Quotas and moratoriums on specific species are permissible under the Wild Bird Conservation Act.

Can I Go to Prison for Wildlife Trafficking?

Yes. Depending on state and federal laws, different periods of time may be spent in jail.

For example, killing, hunting, or trapping animals is punishable by a fine and up to a year in prison under Title 18 of the United States Code.

Is Wildlife Trafficking a Kind of Poaching?

No. Poaching is the unlawful killing of animals. The animals are usually slaughtered for their flesh, skin, or body parts. The term “body parts” refers to illegal and highly sought-after animal body parts such as ivory or fur. A jail term will be served for poaching.

I Want to Import or Export Wildlife. What Would I Need to Do?

In general, if you wish to import or export wildlife, you must submit numerous documentation and declarations with the United States Customs Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the foreign government.

You may open yourself to legal liability if you intend to import wildlife. Any shipment containing dead or live animals must fulfill stringent labeling standards.

A wildlife lawyer familiar with national and international wildlife legislation can help you import or export animals. A wildlife attorney can tell you of the wildlife laws you must be aware of and aid you in complying with them.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are facing legal action as a result of a breach of federal laws, a government lawyer may be able to assist you.

Animal and plant importation regulations are strict. Failing to comply with federal law could lead to severe penalties.

Use LegalMatch to find the right lawyer for your federal wildlife law questions today.

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