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Lacey Act of 1900

The Lacey Act of 1900, or simply the Lacey Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 3371–3378) is a conservation law in the United States that prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold.

Introduced into Congress by Rep. John F. Lacey, an Iowa Republican, the Act was signed into law by President William McKinley on May 25, 1900. It protects both plants and wildlife by creating civil and criminal penalties for those who violate the rules and regulations. The law authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to aid in restoring game and birds in parts of the U.S. where they have become extinct or rare. It also regulates introduction of birds and other animals to places where they have never existed before.[1]

The law is still in effect, and has been amended several times.[2]


  • Motivation 1
  • Amendments 2
  • Gibson Guitar controversy 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In 1900, illegal commercial hunting threatened many game species in the United States. The original Act was directed at the preservation of game and wild birds, making it a federal crime to poach game in one state with the purpose of selling the bounty in another. The law prohibited the transportation of illegally captured or prohibited animals across state lines, and addressed potential problems caused by the introduction of non-native species of birds and animals into native ecosystems.[3]

Today, the Lacey Act is used primarily to prevent the importation or spread of potentially dangerous non-native species. The Act also makes it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant in violation of the laws of the United States, a state, an Indian tribe, or any foreign law that protects plants.[4]


The Lacey Act was amended on May 22, 2008, when the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 expanded its protection to a broader range of plants and plant products (Section 8204. Prevention of Illegal Logging Practices),[5] largely championed by Senator Ron Wyden (D) Oregon, with some arguing that the motivation for the act was to protect US lumber jobs[6] and the supply-chain reporting provisions encountered opposition from the wood industry including objections to the burden of reporting.[1]

As a result, between 2009-2012 there was opposition to the bill,[7] leading to the failed introduction of RELIEF Act (2011 H.R. 3210), which died in June 2012.[8]

This issue attained media prominence in September 2011. Speaker John Boehner cited the Gibson Guitar controversy (see below) in his response to President Obama’s jobs speech.[9]

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced a ban under the Act effective March 23, 2012, on the importation and interstate transportation of four species of constrictor snakes, due to the snakes' impact upon the Florida Everglades.[10]

Gibson Guitar controversy

Gibson Guitar Corporation was raided twice by federal authorities in 2009 and 2011. Federal prosecutors seized wood from Gibson facilities, alleging that Gibson had purchased smuggled Madagascar ebony and Indian rosewood.[11][12] Gibson initially denied wrongdoing and insisted that the federal government was bullying them.[11][13][14]

[15] In August 2012, Gibson entered into a Criminal Enforcement Agreement with the Department of Justice, admitting to violating the Lacey Act. The terms of the agreement require Gibson to pay a fine of $300,000 in addition to a $50,000 community payment, and to abide by the terms of the Lacey Act in the future.[11][16]

See also


  1. ^ a b "1900 Lacey Act
  2. ^ "Nation marks Lacey Act centennial, 100 years of federal wildlife law enforcement". US Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved on July 7, 2010.
  3. ^ Wisch, Rebecca F. "Overview of the Lacey Act (16 U.S.C. SS 3371-3378)". Michigan State University College of Law Animal Legal & Historical Web Center. Retrieved on July 7, 2010.
  4. ^ "Background Information: The Lacey Act Amendments in the Farm Bill". The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, Inc. Retrieved on July 7, 2010.
  5. ^ Khatchadourian, Rafi. (October 6, 2008.) "The Stolen Forests: Inside the covert war on illegal logging". The New Yorker. Retrieved on July 7, 2010.
  6. ^ "The Lacey Act, Plywood Antidumping and the Sen. Wyden Connection
  7. ^ Lacey Act Battle Heats Up on the Hill
  8. ^ No RELIEF: Lacey Act Vote Cancelled
  9. ^ "Guitar Antihero 1: How Gibson Guitars made illegal logging a conservative cause célèbre"
  10. ^ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. (January 23, 2012.) "Injurious Wildlife". Retrieved on August 28, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c Black, R. (6 August 2012). "Gibson settles discord on timber".  
  12. ^ Felten, E. (26 August 2011). "Guitar frets: Environmental enforcement leaves musicians in fear".  
  13. ^ "Gibson Guitar Corp. responds to federal raid". Gibson Guitar Corp. 25 August 2011. Archived from the original on 1 September 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Stern, Andrew (25 August 2011). "Gibson Guitar to fight U.S. probe of its wood imports".  
  15. ^ Wadhwani, A.; Paine, A. (25 August 2011). "Gibson Guitar raided but lips zipped".  
  16. ^  

External links

  • Lacey Act Information from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Oversight Hearing on the 2008 Lacey Act Amendments Part 1 and 2: Oversight Hearing before the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs of the Committee on Natural Resources, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session, Thursday, May 16, 2013 (Part 1), Wednesday, July 17, 2013 (Part 2)
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