USARK Prevails in Lacey Act Lawsuit

Courtesy of the National Aquaculture Association:

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) has prevailed in their legal challenge against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Since the 1970s, the FWS has interpreted the Lacey Act to mean they possess the authority to prohibit the shipment of species listed as Injurious Wildlife between the 49 continental states. USARK argued the simple reading of the law, 18 U.S.C. § 42(a)(1), did not provide that authority. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed on April 7, 2017.

On December 18, 2013, the USARK and various individuals filed a challenge to a 2012 rule in which the FWS designated as Injurious Wildlife several species of snakes. USARK argued that the FWS lacked the authority under the Lacey Act to prohibit transportation of the listed species between the 49 continental States. On May 19, 2015, a District Court agreed with USARK and filed a preliminary injunction against the FWS.  That injunction was appealed by FWS which led to the order by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Additional legal steps will be necessary before currently listed Injurious Wildlife are no longer prohibited for interstate trade within the continental states.  Importation or shipment of Injurious Wildlife between the continental United States and Hawaii, Puerto Rico or other territories continues to be prohibited. The National Aquaculture Association will be asking the FWS for that clarity or shippers can contact the FWS Office of Law Enforcement ( for information.

To read the U.S. Appeals Court ruling, please click here.