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HR 669 – The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Protection Act

What would the world be like without pets? A new bill proposed in House could make this a reality. All pet owners should be aware of a pending federal government resolution. HR669 stands for House Resolution 669 which is designed to change the way the government classifies non-native species. If passed into law it will have a tremendous impact on keeping pets in America. It will make it illegal to sell and breed many animals common in the pet trade including most species of tropical fish, ferrets, most reptile and amphibian species, corals, and many others. Though That Fish Place/That Pet Place is in favor of an effective invasive species law, we are convinced this is absolutely not the legislation to accomplish that. Please read Frank Indiviglio’s blog below to find out more and learn what you can do to help prevent this from even being introduced as a proposed law.

Frank Indiviglio here. By now many readers are no doubt aware of the bill known as House Resolution 669, which is currently before Congress.  If passed, HR 669 will dramatically impact, if not eliminate, pet keeping as we now know it.Check out the proposal as written here to educate yourself and form your own opinion.  For more information and some simple (i.e. “click of your mouse”) steps that you can take to register your opinions, please check out: NoHR669.com

A variety of well-informed arguments against the passage of HR 669 have been raised, many of which are summarized at the aforementioned web site.  I would like to present here a slightly different take on the issue, one drawn from a lifetime of work in the pet trade and as a professional zoologist and conservationist.

Inspiring Conservation

Pet keeping has inspired generations of zoo, aquarium and conservation professionals – the very people upon whom the future of wildlife and wild places depends.  Virtually all zookeepers, zoologists, conservationists, zoo curators, and aquarists – from Raymond Ditmars, first Curator of Reptiles at the Bronx Zoo, to today’s leaders – started out as children with pets, and from this fascination with animals sprouted a career.  This hold true for those with roots in city and countryside, poverty and wealth alike.

The Influence of Nonnative Species

In many cases, the pets that gave rise to and encouraged these people arrived here from afar.  In fact, all of our most commonly kept pet species – guppies, goldfishes, parakeets, canaries, dogs, cats and others, not to mention our domesticated “food animals” save the turkey – are nonnative.  The same holds true for invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians.

The reasons are often not apparent – for example, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fishes from tropical regions are often far simpler to breed in captivity than are temperate species, which usually require a period of reduced temperature and day length if they are to reproduce.  The ability to breed so many exotic creatures encouraged many people to delve deeper, and to apply what they learned to the breeding of endangered species.  Of course, keeping such animals first hand has also long served to inspire a sense of wonder in us, and to urge many to go out into the world and discover just what animals live there, and what can be done to help them.

It must be remembered also that many native animals are legally protected and cannot be kept as pets, and that the ready availability of captive bred foreign species is an important deterrent to the illegal collecting of native wildlife.

The husbandry expertise and respect for animals garnered in the process of caring for them cannot but help find its way into the zoo and conservation realms.  Here in the USA, well-known conservation success stories, including the rescue of the American alligator and black-footed ferret from sure extinction, relied on captive breeding techniques that had long been utilized by serious pet owners working with similar species.  Similar scenarios, both here and abroad, are legion.

Problems Facing Zoo Breeding Programs

Zoos today are unable to meet the challenges posed by an unprecedented number of critically endangered species…all of the world’s zoos could fit comfortably into less than one half the area occupied by New York City.  It has recently been postulated that, even with international cooperation, the world’s zoos could sustain (as opposed to merely “exhibit”) perhaps 500 animal species…a mere fraction of the number faced with imminent extinction.

Pet Keepers Respond to the Turtle Crisis

It is just such a situation which led to the formation, in 2001, of the Turtle Survival Alliance.  This venture draws together zoo herpetologists and private turtle hobbyists in an effort to take concrete conservation action on behalf of the world’s turtle populations, the majority of which are in severe decline.  In one TSA effort, numerous private turtle keepers helped rehabilitate and house the survivors of a group of 10,000 illegally collected turtles that were seized in China and transported to Florida.  Today these animals, many in private hands, form the breeding nucleus for a number of species which seem destined for extinction in the wild in the very near future.

Pet Keepers Conserving Amphibians

The Disappearing Amphibian Crisis is much in the news today, and with good reason.  The situation for many of the world’s frogs and salamanders is so dire that zoos are collecting all the amphibians that can be located in certain habitats.  The hope is that these animals can be kept and bred for possible reintroduction once the threats posed by a rapidly spreading, deadly fungus can be addressed.

Once again, the expertise developed in part by pet keepers has played a major role in the rescue effort.  As concerns frog breeding, hobbyists have kept pace with zoo efforts.  For example, the blue poison frog, restricted in nature to a single mountainside in Surinam, is now a pet trade staple.  Similar stories abound, and the knowledge brought to the zoo field by pet keepers turned zookeepers is helping to assure that frog songs will continue to enliven spring evenings in the future.

The outlook for amphibians, however, is stark, and zoos do not have the facilities or finances to cope.  As with turtles, pet keepers with space and breeding expertise are being called into service as “foster parents”.  The most recent IUCN Red Data Book provides the grim news that one third of all amphibians are either threatened or already extinct.  Of these, 159 species are or may already be gone – 38 are known to be extinct and 121 species have not been seen in recent years and are likely no longer with us.  Those remaining are faring little better – 42% of the known species are declining in numbers, many dramatically, while less than 1% are increasing.

Pet Care Expertise and other Animals

The situation is likely just as critical for other groups that pet keepers have had great success in breeding, including parrots, tortoises and corals.  Where invertebrates are concerned, we do not as yet even have a handle on the magnitude of the problem.  We have closely studied a mere 0.2% of the estimated 30 million insect species, and a far smaller percentage of arachnids and other groups.

However, over 300 species of insects, spiders, scorpions and other terrestrial invertebrates, and a far greater number of aquatic species, are established in breeding populations by pet keepers worldwide.  The lessons learned in the process have been applied to captive breeding and reintroduction programs for a number of North American species, including Karner blue butterflies, burying beetles and red-kneed tarantulas.

Check out nohr669.com for information on how to get your voice heard on hr699


Anyone wishing to share their thoughts or opinions on this issue, may feel free to comment here, or on our facebook page.


  1. avatar

    This is absolutely rediculous. The government has been importing species to get rid of other species for centuries, most of the time it backfires on them. Now they want to have all the control and deny us our civil liberty to the persuit of happiness, which in many cases, calls for the ownership of our beloved animals. If this bill passes, it will be no less than a travesty, and a direct hit to what the USA stands for….FREEDOM!!!! I don’t know who proposed this, or who actually let it get into congress, but something needs to be done to bury it deep and far, so no one can raise this bill again!

  2. avatar

    Once again the invasive politicians getting involved where he or she does not belong. Written by a Democrat and cosponsored by 13 more. If this is the change they desire they can keep all their “CHANGE”! I hope many also consider attending the tea parties and demand fair tax practices and less ignorant wasteful spending.

  3. avatar

    You make many excellent points. The No HR 669 site, however, is just fear-mongering. Most notably, the site’s suggested letter to legislators includes a sentence about “pet owners who care deeply about their pets and face having to dispose of them because of a flawed law.”

    The bill actually has a clause that specifically exempts those who already lawfully own animals later classified as unlawful: “(f) Animals Owned Lawfully Prior to Prohibition of Importation- This Act and regulations issued under this Act shall not interfere with the ability of any person to possess an individual animal of any species if such individual animal was legally owned by the person before the risk assessment is begun pursuant to subsection (e)(3), even if such species is later prohibited from being imported under the regulations issued under this Act.”

    In addition, several of the animals you and the NO HR 669 site mention are specifically defined as not “nonnative wildlife species,” as well as “any other species or variety of species that is determined by the Secretary to be common and clearly domesticated.” This does not, of course, address your concerns about the effect on amateur conservation efforts.

    I encourage those who are concerned (as we all should be) to read the text of the bill (it is not long) at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-669 in order to ensure that your communications with your legislators are well informed.

  4. avatar

    I believe most pet owners are responsible and laws should not be passed that would eliminate our ability to enjoy our pets. They need to find a moderate way to accomplish the protection of our native species without eliminating the non-native species from being acquired as pets.

  5. avatar

    That does include Portuguese Waterdogs of course?

  6. avatar

    I do think some wild animals need to be banned. There are some that are very dangerous, people do not realize this and they turn them loose. They should just regulate those, not all.

  7. avatar

    Many of you people voted for this crap in November and NOW people are concerned. Drives me nuts!

    Went to a Tea Party today so that tells you where I sit.

    I’ve been a small business raising and breeding African Cichlids and this Bill terrifies me. Members of the House and Senate don’t know anything about anything. I am sure they are just following the orders of PETA in doing this!

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  10. avatar

    Thanks for clearing that up Kenneth. You are correct, there is a “grandfather clause” in the act that allows pet owners to keep the pets they currently have. It does however prohibit further breeding of those animals. We encourage everyone to take a look at the opinions listed here, check out the link Kenneth posted ( http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-669
    ) and form an opinion on the issue. Like many of you, we definitely support regulations to control invasive species, it just doesn’t seem like this proposal, in its current state, is the answer.

  11. avatar

    This bill is obsurd. If the US is looking to create more jobs to stimulate the economy its most certainly not done by getting rid of our beloved pets. This would pet alot of pet stores out of business cause thousands of jobs and not to mention how much moned banks would loose from those businesses. They really want to put us into a recession. This also go against what america is founded on and thats is of course FREEDOM, the freedom to make your own decisions and that includes what pets u wish to own or sell.

  12. avatar

    I believe our government has more important items to focus on rather than pet ownership. As a responsible pet owner I do not need big brother standing over me telling me what I can own as a pet. It is bad enough the insurance companies are trying to tell you what dog you can own or they won’t cover you. I own cats, dogs and two large aquarium. My cats and dogs are neutered and well maintained. I do not dump unwanted fish into our streams and lakes. There are animals that should be banned as a pet such as snakes (anacondas, balled pythons) venomous animals of any kind, apes, large cats, bears, bugs etc. Focus on the laws on the books and register the owners of certain species, such as snakes and reptiles which can become a problem when they escape or are released (look at Florida). Hold irresponsible people accountable not punish responsible pet owners.

  13. avatar

    This is just another way the goverment is trying to decide things for everybody, i thought we lived in a democracy and we are allowed to make our own decisiona. Alot of people will losetheir jobs because of this

  14. avatar


    (5) NONNATIVE WILDLIFE SPECIES- The term ‘nonnative wildlife species’–

    (D) does not include any cat (Felis catus), cattle or oxen (Bos taurus), chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), dog (Canis lupus familiaris), donkey or ass (Equus asinus), domesticated members of the family Anatidae (geese), duck (domesticated Anas spp.), goat (Capra aegagrus hircus), goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus), horse (Equus caballus), llama (Lama glama), mule or hinny (Equus caballus x E. asinus), pig or hog (Sus scrofa domestica), domesticated varieties of rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), or sheep (Ovis aries), or any other species or variety of species that is determined by the Secretary to be common and clearly domesticated.

  15. avatar

    They can’t be serious, that eliminates many fascinating and incredible animals, including cichlids, many saltwater fish, what are these people thinking??
    I will do everything in my power to not let this law be passed, it is totally ridiculous and stupid, many people will chose to live elsewhere, for me that’s almost like saying, ” you are not allowed to have your favorite food unless its from china “.

  16. avatar

    We are no longer a democracy. The gov’t tells us what we can do and when we can do it. Won’t be long they will tell us when we can go to the bathroom and eat. It’s time we ALL ban TOGETHER and fight for our animals. They need us and we need them. I would die for my animals. No gov’t will take mine away.

  17. avatar

    As the bill stands now, it will not pass, but it seems very clear that this is about defining pets/livestock that will be TAXABLE when breeding, transporting or selling. I am sure as the aggravation toward the bill hits the representatives, the language will become more clear in defining the taxation of which species and by how much. This will also stamp harder fines and punishment to those who abandon their animals in the wild.

  18. avatar

    did you read the bill? I signed the thing against this bill earlier today thinking it would take away my beloved parakeet Buffy but I just clicked on the link to the bill above and it says if your pet was legal before the bill passed then you could keep them. so basically I don’t have to worry and can keep Buffy. You and this article/video are a bit misinformed/misleading. And it’s not just you its pretty much every other thing against this bill on the web that i have read so far (only a few but still). So I am not just picking on you. It’s most everyone. Although I do agree with most of what you are saying including the invasive and/or endangered species thing. Its just you are a bit misleading. However I just realized that although I can keep Buffy now I will never be able to buy another “Buffy” or aquarium or anything ever again. So never mind I do agree with everything you have said and am against the bill. please ignore what I said above towards the begining of this comment. that was before I realized I cant ever buy a parakeet or fish aquarium again if this passes. I am against this bill. sorry for the confusion.

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    The animals already approved have already been posted, but what hasn’t been posted is the fact that 36 months after the bill is signed will be a period where the government will consider all other animals and conduct/listen to all scientific AND commercial evidence given by anyone for any pet. Being that fish/reptile/amphibian/bird trade has been going on for decades, and the fact that hundreds of thousands of jobs rely on the pet trade, I’m not entirely sure the bill is going to be that dramatic. Animals like large cats, bears, and maybe even things like crocodiles whose care products you wouldn’t find in a pet store would likely be outlawed, as well they should be. Plus, even after the 36 month period, anyone can proposition for any animal to be on the, or off of the approved species list. So even if your favorite pet didn’t make the list, if you got enough people together and have sufficient evidence (the evidence necessary is outlined in the bill), you could get that pet onto the approved list. My main concern with the bill would be the fact that many pets get shipped to Florida before making their way to the other states. Florida’s environment is favorable for many of the exotic species we keep as pets, and some have already found homes there (oscars, peacock bass, and even some snakes). I would be afraid that scientists in Florida would ask to ban these species as they DO pose a threat to the native species, the environment, and the people of Florida. But, as I’ve mentioned before, commercial evidence will also be considered and if there’s one thing the government has shown us over the years it’s that money runs everything. More than likely they’d see that the pet industry is a multi-million dollar business and do their best not to regulate it, seeing as how it’d put hundreds of thousands of people out of a job. Is there something I missed about the bill that I should be concerned about? I read it and really don’t see a problem with it. If you’re concerned about whether or not your pet will make the list I would suggest getting in contact with other people with those pets (most people are already in such contact via online forums or local pet clubs), and construct the necessary evidence to ensure that it does make the list. Sorry for the novel, there’s just a lot to say.

  20. avatar

    Animals Are Not Ours to Eat
    Animals Are Not Ours to Wear
    Animals Are Not Ours to Experiment On
    Animals Are Not Ours to Use for Entertainment
    Animals Are Not Ours to Abuse in Any Way
    this law will protect animals from people.
    It looks like your video is filmed in a room filled with snakes kept in tupperware containers.This law will not allow that to continue…
    People need to think and try to understand what this bill intends.they dont want to take”pets” away from people they want to protect animals from people..

  21. avatar

    What people like thuumper have to understand is that this is not a bill to protect animals from people in a sense where it will convince people to wear cotton, hemp, or synthetics or to promote vegan lifestyle. This law is to promote invasive non-native species integrating into different environments, and at the possible expense of responsible pet owners. The results of this bill could be far more negative than thuumper might realize. Try getting quality dog or cat foods at your local grocery because pet stores close due to innability to attain tropical or other non-native species. Get a clue. This bill is bad!!!

  22. avatar
    Christopher Funk

    The most frightening aspect of this bill is, if passed, the government would be given an empty list to fill with any species they see fit at any time. True they make it seem as if cats and dogs would never be effected by this law, but in reality cats and dogs are just as nonnative as a Ball Python. Take a second to think about the ferule cats and dogs on the streets. They pose just as much threat as a nonnative venomous snake. I have no evidence to support this but, I’m sure that more humans are harmed by ferule dogs than a boa constrictor. The point being that many people are not taking the time to look at the big picture presented before them. If an organization such as PETA gets enough people behind the ban on a certain animal it could be banned. I am not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I do feel that this is once again presenting the government with far more power than then need.

  23. avatar

    I agree with Christopher Funk. STOP THIS BILL BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!

  24. avatar

    coetsee said i will do everything in my power to not let this law be passed, it is totally ridiculous and stupid, many people will chose to live elsewhere, for me that’s almost like saying, ” you are not allowed to have your favorite food unless its from china “

  25. avatar

    It was extremely interesting for me to read that post. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

    Julia Benedict

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About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.