Individuals and companies shipping items containing materials used from protected species must obtain a federal permit before sending their package. Failure to do so, could result in monetary fines upwards of $12,000 and federal prosecution. While some courier services offer assistance to ensure packages are compliant with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and federal laws it’s always great to be aware of the laws in place to protect yourself and your pockets ;) Here are three major laws that can impact your shipment and the governing bodies that enforce them.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a bureau of the Department of Interior that collaborates with others to “conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats.’ To successfully fulfill their mission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforces federal laws that protect endangered species. In addition, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulates the sale and transport of species protected under their three appendices. The CITES appendices offer 3 levels of protection according to the likelihood of a species survival.
Endangered Species Act (ESA):
- America’s most known wildlife protection law
- Lists 1925+ species that are in imminent danger of extinction (known as ‘Endangered’) or species which may become endangered in the near future unless preventative action is taken (known as ‘Threatened’).
- Unless permitted by regulation, it is illegal to import, export, take, transport, sell, purchase, or receive in interstate or foreign commerce any species listed as Endangered or Threatened.
- Violators can encounter civil and or misdemeanor criminal penalties for a knowing violation of its prohibitions.
- The ESA can be applied to the habitat of listed animals critical for the species’ survival.
- The ESA implements the CITES treaty, an international convention that regulates transnational commerce in species considered to be at risk due to trade.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA):
- Protects almost all native North American birds, except upland game birds (e.g., quail, grouse and their relatives) and unless permitted by regulation (e.g., state hunting regulations)
- It is illegal to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, possess, sell, barter, purchase, ship, export or import migratory birds…or any of their parts (e.g., nests, eggs or other byproducts/products).
- The MBTA is a “strict liability” offense which means the government does not have to prove intent on the part of the person or corporation that takes the bird.
- Even if a bird’s feathers have naturally shed, it is illegal to have the feathers of protected migratory birds.
- A felony penalty for the sale or exchange of listed species will be issued to offenders.
- First enacted in 1900. Considered the country’s first wildlife law
- Bans the interstate and foreign trafficking of protected wildlife and specimen that is in violation of a wildlife related state, federal foreign or tribal law or regulation.
- Bans the submission or creation of false records, accounts or labels for protected wildlife transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
- Offenders can be issued a misdemeanor and or felony penalty. This includes forfeiture of both the wildlife/specimen involved in an offense as well as any means of transport and equipment used to commit the crime.