Senate takes action on several wildlife bills

By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division

In July, the Senate moved on several pieces of legislation that deal with the private ownership of certain wildlife species and invasive species.

On July 30, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the Captive Primate Safety Act, which will add nonhuman primates (e.g. monkeys, gorillas, orangutans, great apes) to the definition of “prohibited wildlife species” under the Lacey Act, thus restricting the sale or purchase of these animals in interstate commerce. The AVMA continues to be opposed to this legislation due to an exemption in the bill for nonhuman primates used as assistance animals, which conflicts directly with AVMA’s policy that does not condone their use as assistance animals due to animal welfare concerns, the potential for serious injury and zoonotic risks.

The committee also held a hearing on July 16 and considered two other bills that AVMA opposes on its legislative agenda: S. 1381, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, and S. 1153, the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act. The goal of S. 1381 is to prohibit the private ownership of certain species of big cats. S. 1153 would create new federal rules regarding the prevention and control of invasive species. The AVMA supports appropriate federal regulations prohibiting the importation and interstate movement of wildlife and exotic or invasive animals, but believes that both of these bills will have negative unintended consequences that may actually weaken federal oversight.

The Senate has not set a firm timeline for further action on these bills, but the next step for the Captive Primate Safety Act would be a vote by the full Senate. The other two bills still await a vote by the full committee.

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