Federal wildlife laws are designed to protect the world’s wildlife resources.  This may include laws protecting endangered species, enforcing wildlife laws of other countries, and preventing the importation of wildlife to protect our wildlife resources. 

What Is the Lacey Act?

The purpose of the Lacey Act is to help foreign countries, and each State, enforce their wildlife conservation laws.  It is intended to fight wildlife trafficking. Federal law, under the Lacey Act, prohibits a person from exporting, importing, transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring, or purchasing any wildlife taken or possessed in violation of any foreign, State, Federal or Indian tribal law. 

What Is CITES?

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is an agreement between more than 130 countries that regulates international trade to prevent the decline of species threatened, or potentially threatened by extinction.  The import or export of any species on the lengthy list is prohibited or heavily restricted. 

What Is the Wild Bird Conservation Act?

The Wild Bird Conservation Act prohibits or limits the import of exotic bird species protected by CITES.  The act however, allows the importation of some exotic birds from qualified overseas breeding facilities.  Quotas and moratoriums on certain species are permitted under the Wild Bird Conservation Act. 

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

Generally, if you want to import or export wildlife you must file various documents and declarations with the U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as documents required by the foreign government.  If you plan on importing wildlife you may be subject to duties.  Any package containing dead or living wildlife must meet specific labeling requirements. 

What U.S. Agencies Regulate Federal Wildlife Laws?

The regulation and enforcement of wildlife laws are administered by many agencies.  Some of these agencies include:  Customs, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Agriculture, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Department of Commerce.

What Are State Laws or Regulations?

Wildlife native to a State is usually regulated by the individual State.  Most States have their own laws controlling the introduction of non-native wildlife and regulate trade within the State. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

A lawyer experienced in national and international wildlife laws can assist you with importing or exporting wildlife.  An attorney can inform you of the wildlife laws you need to know and assist in your compliance.  If you are facing legal proceedings because of a violation of federal laws, a government lawyer may help your defense.