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Do Proposed Lacey Act Amendments in the U.S. COMPETES Act Affect Ant Keeping?

Do Proposed Lacey Act Amendments in the U.S. COMPETES Act Affect Ant Keeping?

The Rumor

In early February, 2022, the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) and the Tarantula Collective YouTube channel published several articles and a video, respectively, that have become increasingly widely shared among the ant keeping community.

The ant keeping community has taken these warnings to mean that proposed changes to the Lacey Act will further restrict ant keeping in the United States, making it more difficult or impossible to legally transport ants across state lines.

The Facts

This article is not intended to discuss the legality of collecting, keeping, or transporting ants among the United States. I will only be discussing the amendments to the Lacey Act as proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives version of the U.S. COMPETES Act, which passed on February 4, 2022 and must now be considered and passed by the U.S. Senate and signed by the President before becoming law.

The Lacey Act essentially creates a federal cause of action against individuals engaged in violating other U.S., native American Indian, or state laws related to the protection of fish, other wildlife, and plants. While it is possible for parts of the Lacey Act to affect the keeping of ants and other insects, the proposed Lacey Act amendments found in the U.S. COMPETES Act (pg. 1661) do not appear to affect ants or other insects.

The Lacey Act Amendments only make changes to "Section 42 of title 18, United States Code," which is the section of the Lacey Act with the heading, and relating solely to:

"Importation or shipment of injurious mammals, birds, fish (including mollusks and crustacea), amphibia, and reptiles; permits, specimens for museums; regulations."

In other words, there are no proposed changes to U.S. law that would affect ant keepers.


So, while the the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers is right to warn of the threat posed to their industry and interests under these amendments, the proposed changes to the Lacey Act would not affect ants or other invertebrates (including tarantulas) in any way, because these organisms are not regulated in the section of law that is being amended.

To understand for yourself how the Lacey Act Amendments would change the law, simply insert or replace language from the bill into the corresponding sections of the Lacey Act, and this becomes the amended Lacey Act.

It is not impossible to read and understand the law for yourself. It is simply a matter of putting the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together so the law can be properly understood in its complete and correct context.

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by Terry Miller

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