Federal - HR 1818

A bill to amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to clarify provisions enacted by the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, to further the conservation of certain wildlife species, and for other purposes.


March 30, 2017


HR1818, the misleadingly titled the “Big Cat Public Safety Act,” is a Federal bill supported by animal rights proponents that has little to do with actual safety and preservation but rather is all about limiting ownership of big cats. The bill seeks to amend the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which is a 2003 amendment of the Lacey Act that severely limited the interstate transport of big cats to USDA licensed facilities. The Lacey Act itself, in a nutshell, is a conservation law dealing with the illegal trade and trafficking of wildlife and plants. The law regulates trade to protect plants and wildlife, restore wildlife populations, and regulate the introduction of species.

The regulation of animal welfare is well outside the legislative intent and scope of the Lacey Act, but this proposed bill would do just that. HR 1818 would add welfare standards that are not necessary because these animals are already subject to the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, which is enforced by the USDA/APHIS. This bill would empower the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for enforcing the Lacey Act, to regulate and oversee animal welfare. This takes authority away from, or at least weakens, the USDA. Furthermore, the FWS is not qualified nor equipped to oversee animal welfare. Of paramount concern is the confusion this will create among the agencies – a tactic often employed by animal rights activists and extremists in order to manipulate government to enforce their dogmatic agendas.

Earlier versions of this bill offered exemptions for facilities that were accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a private organization that is endorsed by HSUS and is currently partnering with this extreme group toward the goal of the elimination of entities that are external to their private trade group. The AZA inserts animal rights beliefs into their accreditation standards and has been growing increasingly radical and exclusive in recent years, to the detriment of species survival programs and coordinated breeding efforts. This current version of the bill does not exempt AZA by name, but exempts facilities licensed by the USDA, qualified with AZA policies that in essence make the exemptions apply only to facilities accredited by AZA. Requirements for exempted USDA licensed facilities are much more stringent than the requirements for exempted sanctuaries, though many sanctuaries are commercial in their activities. In short, this bill was written to create discord and confusion within the small, tight-knit zoological industry upon which the future survival of many species is predicated.

Worse yet, this bill will severely limit captive breeding of big cats. Breeding would only be permitted at exempted USDA facilities and only if it is “conducted pursuant to a species-specific, publicly available, peer-reviewed population management plan developed according to established conservation science principles.” It is of serious concern that none of these terms are defined witin the bill’s language, and in fact, the actual definition of “breed” has been altered from bill iteration to iteration. Drastically limiting breeding in this manner will hurt big cat populations, narrow much-needed gene pools, and cause overall harm to critical conservation efforts. For the other facilities still permitted to have big cats but not permitted to breed, those facilities would be criminally accountable even if a breeding occurred unintentionally. None of this is to the benefit of the ongoing survival of these species, many of which are rapidly approaching extinction.

Our Position


Original Sponsor 1

Co-Sponsors 142

Latest Actions See More/Less

  • Dec. 12, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Tonko, (D-N.Y.)
  • Sept. 25, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Bass, (D-Calif.)
  • Aug. 17, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 2

    Bilirakis, (R-Fla.)Lowey, (D-N.Y.)
  • July 10, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 2

    Maloney, S.P. (D-N.Y.)Sanchez, (D-Calif.)
  • June 28, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    LaHood, (R-Ill.)
  • June 26, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 4

    Cartwright, (D-Pa.)Gonzalez-Colon, J. (R-P.R.)
    Costa, (D-Calif.)Young, David (R-Iowa)
  • June 1, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Capuano, (D-Mass.)
  • May 22, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 7

    Blunt Rochester, (D-Del.)Johnson, H. (D-Ga.)Wasserman Schultz, (D-Fla.)
    Gallego, (D-Ariz.)Nolan, (D-Minn.)
    Grijalva, (D-Ariz.)Rooney, F. (R-Fla.)
  • April 12, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 8

    Bordallo, (D-Guam)Lipinski, (D-Ill.)Ruppersberger, (D-Md.)
    Kaptur, (D-Ohio)Lynch, (D-Mass.)Ryan, T. (D-Ohio)
    Lieu, (D-Calif.)Pascrell (D-N.J.)
  • March 22, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 1

    Bishop, M. (R-Mich.)
  • March 15, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 4

    Beatty, (D-Ohio)Norcross, (D-N.J.)
    Higgins, B. (D-N.Y.)Smucker, (R-Pa.)
  • Jan. 29, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 4

    Boyle, (D-Pa.)Joyce, (R-Ohio)
    Collins, C. (R-N.Y.)Raskin, (D-Md.)
  • Jan. 9, 2018 — Additional cosponsor(s): 4

    Bacon, (R-Neb.)Hastings, (D-Fla.)
    DesJarlais, (R-Tenn.)Lujan Grisham, M. (D-N.M.)
  • Dec. 13, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 9

    Amodei, (R-Nev.)Hanabusa, (D-Hawaii)Quigley, (D-Ill.)
    Garrett, (R-Va.)Knight, (R-Calif.)Ros-Lehtinen, (R-Fla.)
    Gomez, (D-Calif.)Marino, (R-Pa.)Womack, (R-Ark.)
  • Nov. 9, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 3

    Brown, A. (D-Md.)Schweikert, (R-Ariz.)Sires, (D-N.J.)
  • Oct. 19, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 3

    Beyer (D-Va.)Paulsen, (R-Minn.)Valadao, (R-Calif.)
  • Sept. 28, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 6

    Connolly, (D-Va.)Krishnamoorthi, (D-Ill.)Tipton, (R-Colo.)
    King, P. (R-N.Y.)Meehan, (R-Pa.)Zeldin, (R-N.Y.)
  • Aug. 29, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 8

    Crist, (D-Fla.)McSally, (R-Ariz.)Smith, C. (R-N.J.)
    Huffman, (D-Calif.)Rice, K. (D-N.Y.)Wilson, F. (D-Fla.)
    Kilmer, (D-Wash.)Roybal-Allard, (D-Calif.)
  • July 28, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 8

    Coffman, (R-Colo.)McGovern, (D-Mass.)Polis, (D-Colo.)
    Jayapal, (D-Wash.)Meng, (D-N.Y.)Schneider, (D-Ill.)
    McCollum, (D-Minn.)Napolitano, (D-Calif.)
  • June 15, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 13

    Chu, (D-Calif.)Lowenthal, (D-Calif.)Suozzi, (D-N.Y.)
    Comstock, (R-Va.)Payne (D-N.J.)Trott, (R-Mich.)
    Fitzpatrick, (R-Pa.)Rosen, (D-Nev.)Watson Coleman, (D-N.J.)
    Gottheimer, (D-N.J.)Schakowsky, (D-Ill.)
    Kind, (D-Wis.)Scott, D. (D-Ga.)
  • May 25, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 10

    Courtney, (D-Conn.)Kihuen, (D-Nev.)Turner, (R-Ohio)
    Davis, S. (D-Calif.)Lujan, B.R. (D-N.M.)Yoder, (R-Kan.)
    DeFazio, (D-Ore.)Peters, S. (D-Calif.)
    Deutch, (D-Fla.)Takano, (D-Calif.)
  • May 16, 2017 — Additional cosponsor(s): 35

    Blumenauer, (D-Ore.)DeSaulnier, (D-Calif.)Moulton, (D-Mass.)
    Bonamici, (D-Ore.)Donovan, (R-N.Y.)Norton, (D-D.C.)
    Brownley, (D-Calif.)Esty, (D-Conn.)O'Halleran, (D-Ariz.)
    Carbajal, (D-Calif.)Foster, (D-Ill.)Pingree, (D-Maine)
    Cardenas, (D-Calif.)Frelinghuysen, (R-N.J.)Schiff, (D-Calif.)
    Castor, (D-Fla.)Gutierrez, (D-Ill.)Serrano, (D-N.Y.)
    Cicilline, (D-R.I.)Keating, (D-Mass.)Slaughter, (D-N.Y.)
    Clark, K. (D-Mass.)Langevin, (D-R.I.)Speier, (D-Calif.)
    Cohen, (D-Tenn.)Lee, B. (D-Calif.)Tenney, (R-N.Y.)
    Costello, (R-Pa.)Lofgren, (D-Calif.)Titus, (D-Nev.)
    DeLauro, (D-Conn.)McNerney, (D-Calif.)Yarmuth, (D-Ky.)
    Dent, (R-Pa.)Moore, (D-Wis.)
  • March 30, 2017 — Original cosponsor(s): 7

    Farenthold, (R-Texas)Jones, (R-N.C.)Tsongas, (D-Mass.)
    Gaetz, (R-Fla.)LoBiondo, (R-N.J.)
    Johnson, B. (R-Ohio)Ross, (R-Fla.)
  • March 30, 2017 — Read twice and referred to: House Natural Resources.Congressional Record p. H2597