Pending Federal BILLS

“The Captive Primate Safety Act”

Not yet introduced for 2017

UAPPEAL has been opposing the Captive Primate Safety Act for the past 10 years.  By working with our federal lobbyist, we have been very successful at stopping this bill from becoming law.  The newer versions of the bill, have made many changes from past versions of the bill that will have an impact on a much wider base of exotic animal owners, both private and federally licensed. Because of the complex network of federal, state, and local laws and regulations that already govern the ownership of most wildlife species, even what appear on the surface to be minor changes to existing laws can have a catastrophic cascade of unintended consequences.

UAPPEAL Action on 2015-2016 Bill

During our September 15, 2015 trip to DC, we had several successful meetings with the staff of key legislators about the CPSA and explained our opposition to the bill.  We made new contacts and created allies to help us in our future work on this bill and all other bills such as the Big Cat and Public Safety Protection Act.  

Summary of Proposed Legislation:

The Captive Primate Safety Act is a proposed modification to the Captive Wildlife Safety Act (2003), which was an amendment to the Lacey Act (1900) that will broaden the list of prohibited wildlife species to include all non-human primates. The Captive Primate Safety Act would prohibit the importation, exportation, transportation, and sale, receipt, acquisition, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce of all animals on the list of prohibited wildlife species in the Lacey Act.  Even though its name implies otherwise, the species covered by the Captive Primate Safety Act includes felines and bears, and these proposed changes expand the scope of the Captive Wildlife Safety Act from 8 to 510 impacted species.

The newest version of this bill also removes the exemption for USDA licensed individuals that were not affected by this bill in the past.  The Captive Primate Safety Act will adversely impact animal welfare, species survival, and will lead to unintended experiential and fiscal consequences that will negatively affect the operations of federally regulated businesses working with impacted species.

Newer versions of this bill have also removed our amendments that were accepted into the bill in 2008 for out-of-state vet care and to bequeath our animals to out-of-state caregivers in the event of the owners’ death.  Because the newest version of the bill has regressed to earliest versions we are basically starting over from scratch.

This bill would create hardships for the existing owners of all animals listed as prohibited wildlife species in the Lacey Act.  This bill does not allow for interstate travel for out-of-state vet care, to transport the prohibited wildlife species to a legally designated caregiver in the event of the death or illness of the owner, or in the case of an emergency such as an evacuation due to a tornado or hurricane. Owners would not be able to visit family members in another state and take their animals with them.

This bill would also restrict “public contact” with all animals listed as a prohibited wildlife species and there is no clear definition of what they consider “public” which would interfere with the existing regulatory authority granted to USDA-APHIS.  It would increase costs and decreased revenue due to changes in personnel practices, business operations, and program offerings. USDA licensed individuals may not be able to allow volunteers, vet students or contract employees such as their vet to touch their animals.  State-licensed wildlife rehabilitators working with cougars and bears will face additional regulatory burden.

Additional restrictions on movement adversely impact conservation breeding program sustainability.  It would be impossible to pair up single primates, felines and bears with out of state facilities or add new genetics to breeding programs.  All facilities would be basically trapped in their own state.


"Big Cat Public Safety Act"

Not Yet Introduced for 2017

Summary of Proposed Legislation:

Big Cats and Public Safety Act - Amends the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to prohibit any person from importing, exporting, transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring, purchasing in interstate or foreign commerce, breeding, or possessing any prohibited wildlife species (current law prohibits importing, exporting, transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring, or purchasing such a species in interstate or foreign commerce). This bill includes among exemptions to such prohibition, the breeding, transportation, or possession of such species by authorized persons.

Defines "breeding" as facilitating the propagation or reproduction (whether intentionally or negligently), or failing to prevent the propagation or reproduction, of a prohibited wildlife species or other animal.

Removes from the list of persons authorized to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, purchase, breed, or possess such species a person that is licensed or registered, and inspected, by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) or any other federal agency with respect to such species. Includes in such list:

  • an institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or certified related facilities that coordinate with an AZA Species Survival Plan for breeding of species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973;
  • a wildlife sanctuary that cares for such species, is a tax exempt corporation, does not commercially trade in or propagate such species, does not allow direct contact between the public and animals, and does not allow the transportation and display of such species off-site;
  • a person that is in possession of animals of such species that were born before the date of this Act's enactment and that are registered with APHIS within 180 days after such regulations are promulgated; and
  • a traveling circus that regularly travels in interstate commerce to conduct performances featuring live prohibited wildlife species and multiple trained human entertainers, that does not allow members of the public to be in direct contact with or unsafe proximity to a prohibited wildlife species of any age, and that, during the three years preceding this Act's enactment, has not been determined by the Secretary of Agriculture to have violated the Animal Welfare Act by reason of jeopardizing the health and well-being of a prohibited wildlife species.

This bill establishes civil and criminal penalties and forfeiture requirements for violations of this Act.

Questions about Federal Legislation?

Contact our Federal Legislation Director

Pending Federal Rulings

FEDERAL - USDA Rule  2012-0107-0002    Petition to Amend Animal Welfare Act Regulations To Prohibit Public Contact with Big Cats, Bears, and Nonhuman Primates. 

Bans direct public contact, removing young from mother until natural weaning age except medical necessity, and requires barriers 15 feet away. 

Status: Comments due November 18, 2013. 

Waiting for USDA decision on this ruling.

FEDERAL - USDA Rule    APHIS 2012-0106-0001   Petition to Promulgate Standards for Bears. 
Creates caging, feeding and exhibiting requirements for bears. 

Status: Introduced 11/26/2013.  Comments due January 27, 2014. 

Waiting for USDA decision on this ruling.          

There are two federal agencies that regulate exotic animals within the United States: the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  APHIS issues licenses for those who use exotic animals for commercial purposes only and is NOT required for those keeping exotic animals for noncommercial purposes such as pets or for sanctuaries closed to the public.  There are 4 main licenses: Class A for breeding and selling animals, Class B for wholesale and brokers, and Class C for public exhibition, along with a research license.  USDA licensees must follow the Animal Welfare Act, which regulates enclosures and care and rules for public exhibition.

 Another federal law is the Captive Wildlife Safety Act that regulates prohibited wildlife species (cheetah, cougar, jaguar, leopards, lion, and tiger).  The CWSA prohibits the import or export and the transport, sale, receipt, acquisition or purchase of a prohibited wildlife species across state lines except for those with a USDA license, a state college or university, state agency, state licensed wildlife rehabilitator, state licensed veterinarian, a wildlife sanctuary that does not propagate, commercial trade or allow public contact with such species, or someone transporting an animal to one of these exempt entities.  The CWSA does NOT apply to those acquiring one of these felines within their own state.

 The US FWS issues licenses for threatened and endangered and protected species and international import and export.  Those activities that require a US FWS license include falconry, activities involving protected migratory birds, selling or transporting those species in the Endangered Species Act in interstate commerce, and importing or transporting injurious wildlife across state lines.  ESA species require either a Captive Bred Wildlife Registration or an Interstate Commerce Permit.  Captive Bred Wildlife Registration allows unlimited activity but requires that the organization or facility prove that the interstate commerce will enhance the propagation or survival of the species and submit an annual report.  A Captive Bred Wildlife Registration or Interstate Commerce Permit is not required for possession, buying and selling within the same state or even trades of similar species.  Both parties must have a permit, and permits are not issued for selling or buying such species as pets.  Importing or transporting injurious wildlife across state lines requires an Import, Acquisition, Transport of Injurious Wildlife Permit.  Species lists for all categories can be found:  Permits can be found:  For questions about permits, contact the Division of Management Authority call 1-800-358-2104 or email