Federal/State Legal Structure

Importation, movement, possession, collection and transfer of certain groups of live species in the United States for certain purposes is regulated by a complex maze of federal and state laws. At the federal level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the primary agency responsible for regulating the importation and interstate movement of live species in the pet trade.

At the state level, multiple agencies have different roles in the various states' regulatory processes. Unfortunately, there is no consistency amongst the fifty states. Below is a list of actions that may have specific State statutes that regulate them. Please check with your state fish and wildlife agency, your state department of natural resources or state department of agriculture to determine the primary regulatory authority that has legal responsibilities for live species. Once you have determined which agency has this responsibility, you need to check with them about the processes and follow the specific statutes they have in place to regulate these actions.