On January 22, 2013, Senator Robert Hedlund introduced Massachusetts Senate Bill 368 which was referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. Senator Hedlund acted on petition from Kurt Schatzl, former president and current Director of the New England Herpetological Society, and both chambers have concurred on SB 368.
SB 368 only seeks to make a minor modification to existing Massachusetts law, of which the relevant portion is included below with a redline of the change implemented by SB 368.
Herp Alliance supports SB 368 and thanks Kurt Schatzl and NEHS for participating in the improvement of legislation affecting herpetofauna by expanding the list of reptiles and amphibians which may be exempted from licensure.
MASSACHUSETTS CHAPTER 131
Section 23. Except as otherwise provided by this section or any rule or regulation made under the authority thereof, a person shall not engage in the propagation, cultivation, or maintenance of, or the dealing in, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, or amphibians, or parts thereof, as provided in section twenty-four, twenty-five or forty-seven, without first having obtained a propagator’s license or dealer’s license, as the case may be, authorizing him so to do. For the purpose of this section, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians shall refer to undomesticated birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that are wild by nature. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the propagation, disposition, sale, possession or maintenance of domesticated species.
The director, after a public hearing, shall make and may alter, amend, or repeal, rules and regulations governing the possession, propagation, maintenance, disposition, purchase, exchange, sale or offering for sale of fish, birds, mammals, reptiles or amphibians, or parts thereof, protected by this chapter, and may issue licenses in accordance with such rules and regulations.
The director shall draw up a special exemption list of fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Animals to be thus listed shall meet the following criteria: (1) accidental release of the fish, bird, mammal, reptile or amphibian will not result in an adverse effect on the ecology of the commonwealth; (2) the animal in captivity, or escaped therefrom poses no substantial danger to man, by either injury or disease; (3) proper care of the animal is no more demanding in any major respect than proper care of common domestic animals; and (4) trade in the fish, bird, mammal, reptile or amphibian has no significant adverse effect on the wild population of such animal in any of its natural habitats. No animal listed in any category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ Red Data Books shall be listed, with the exception of reptiles and amphibians listed in the categories of Least Concern (LC), 4 Data Deficient (DD) or Not Evaluated (NE); no animal protected by either federal endangered species law or by section 4 of chapter 131A shall be listed. The special exemption list may be altered by the director after a public hearing. Any individual may possess as a pet, without a license, any animal on the special exemption list, and may continue to do so in case of subsequent removal of such animal from the list, for the lifetime of his animal, contingent upon evidence of acquisition of the animal while so listed.