ESA letter to FWS

Doug Yanega dyanega at DENR1.IGIS.UIUC.EDU
Thu Nov 10 17:57:04 CST 1994

I was gratified to read the contents of John Morse's letter to the FWS.
I'd like to add a few more observations for those who might not have
completely scrutinized all of the paperwork involved (some of which were
included in my own letter recently sent to FWS):
The FWS has expressed so-called "internal policy" that scientific shipments
are not harrassed, and free to use the mails. The problem is that an
*unwritten* policy is not a guarantee, and the recent refusal of the
British Museum to loan specimens (I, myself, have gotten a recent
"rejection letter") indicates that no *verbal* guarantee is sufficient,
when in writing there are legal grounds for inspection and seizure of
specimens. There have been problems with "lip service" in the past, where a
stink has been raised, and the official response was to offer a verbal
guarantee, but let the written rules stand. We MUST convince the USFWS to
*act* on the recommendations, because we cannot afford to be sealed off
from the rest of the global systematics community.
As a glowing example, consider USDA/APHIS regulation 7 CFR part 319
(Federal Register v. 50, no. 111, 1985, pp. 24171-24174): this document
imposes severe restrictions on the importation of "dead bees of any genus"
and *specifically* refused to exclude entomological research materials.
When the bee systematists pounced upon this, the official response was a
verbal promise - profuse and repeated - that these restrictions would never
be enforced. There have not, in fact, been any attempts to enforce this.
The point is, however, that every international loan of bee specimens since
1985 (except those from Canada) has been technically illegal. Actually,
there is so little attempt to enforce this regulation that a
bumblebee-rearing outfit, BioBest, has already made arrangements to ship
live colonies of bumblebees from Belgium to the US, despite the technical
illegality (and obvious risks to our native bumblebees), without any
attempts by the USDA to prevent it.
        But I digress: to return to the original topic, there are other
parts of 50 CFR pts. 13-14 that pose a problem - sec. 14.94 establishes a
fee schedule which, if I am not sorely mistaken, establishes a *minimum*
fee of 55$ per shipment of material. This may be fine for a commercial
wildlife enterprise, but non-commercial scientific institutions, with their
ever-shrinking budgets, simply cannot afford that kind of exorbitant fee.
Don't forget that we need exemption from this fee!
        Finally, section 14.81 establishes a requirement that each shipment
"be accompanied by an accurate and legible list of its contents by
scientific species name and the number of each species" - this is clearly
in ADDITION to the species listing required for form 3-177! Just being
granted immunity from form 3-177 will not entirely free us from giving a
species list, so there is yet one more clause to overcome.
        Frankly, there are so many onerous restrictions involved, which
would require a considerable amount of rewriting, that it would seem to me
easier to request a complete waiver of *all* restrictions in the regulation
for non-commercial scientific shipments, rather than expect the FWS to
revise each and every point to our satisfaction.
        Just more grist for the mill,

Doug Yanega      Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 E. Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA     phone (217) 244-6817, fax (217) 333-4949
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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