On February 8, 2013, Pennsylvania Representatives Haluska, Kortz. D Costa, Cohen, Caroll, O’Neill, Caltagirone, Mahoney, Mullery, W. Keller, V. Brown, Deluca, Hess an Murt introduced House Bill 575, which was referred to the Game and Fisheries Committee the same day.
HB 575 seeks to prohibit certain “exotic wildlife” after January 1, 2015. “Exotic wildlife” is defined as “all nonindigenous animals” in addition to a specified list of exotics from private ownership. The bill does not define nonindigenous animals, which, as a matter of law, means all animals not native to Pennsylvania.
The only exceptions are birds, any member of the families Equidae horses,asses and zebras), Camelidae (camels, alpacas and llamas),Cervidae (deer, moose and elk), Bovidae (wild cattle and spiralhorned antelopes), Muridae (rats and mice), Chinchillidae (chinchillas and viscachas), Leporidae (rabbits and hares), Erinaceidae (hedgehogs and moonrats), Petauridae (gliders and striped oossums) or any member of the species Mustela furo (domestic ferrets) or Cavia porcellus (domestic guinea pigs) or any “domestic animal” as that term is defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511 (relating to cruelty to animals).
The term “exotic wildlife” is not defined elsewhere in Pennsylvania statutes. Title 34 is intended to encompass only mammals and birds, which would mean it would still broadly impact the exotic animal community, but as written, the legal definition would also include reptiles as a matter of black letter law. (Title 34 only mentions reptiles with respect to the definition of taxidermy.)
Pennsylvania Title 30 (Fish) deals with reptiles. The two sections are enforced by different Pennsylvania agencies.
HB 575 states that as of January 1, 2015 the Pennsylvania Game Commission will not issue any new permits for personal possession of an animal defined as “exotic wildlife”.
An “exotic dealer” is defined in HB 1398 as “anyone who imports into this Commonwealth, possesses, buys, sells, locates or finds for a fee, barters, donates, gives away or otherwise disposes of exotic wildlife; and engages in at least five documented transactions annually involving exotic wildlife.
Herp Alliance opposes HB 575 due to the ambiguity in the definition of “exotic wildlife” but also because it seeks to impose a prohibition on all exotic mammals within the State of Pennsylvania.
Because we believe that the language would only inadvertently include reptiles, we are not issuing an Action Alert for herpetoculturists at this time. However, members of the exotic animal community with mammals should be contacting their legislators.