California Senate Bill 376 (SB376) was introduced by Senator Henry Stern as a placeholder bill in February and the text was just posted on March 4.
Require the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to ban the importation and possession of certain species. The species list must be completed by December 31, 2022. NOTE: Existing law prohibits the importation, transportation, possession, or live release of listed wild animals, except under a permit. This extensive law can be found at Cal. Fish & G. Code § 2116 – 2203 (includes a species list of restricted live wild animals).
Require DFW to prohibit the importation of species that could possess certain zoonoses. A species would be prohibited if DFW finds the species “could be responsible for a novel, or not previously reported, readily transmissible human disease.” (i.e. COVID-19)
Prohibit live animal markets from storing or selling invasive species or animals that may be responsible for zoonoses. Current law already defines a “live animal market” as: a retail food market where frogs, turtles, and birds other than poultry are stored alive and sold to consumers for purposes of human consumption
Require DFW to heighten work regarding wildlife trafficking.
A zoonotic disease, or zoonosis (plural zoonoses), is a type of disease that is transmissible from animals to humans. COVID-19 has brought zoonoses front and center with most reports stating COVID-19 is a zoonosis that originated in wild bats. The transfer from animal to human is zoonotic transmission.
While SB376 should not affect the importation of most animals, we do not know yet what criteria will be used for listings. There is certainly a chance for overreach but the bill clearly states that the zoonotic threat must qualify as being “responsible for a novel [i.e. new], or not previously reported, readily transmissible human disease.”
The live animal market ban would not affect herpetoculture. Per California Code:
- “Live animal market” means a retail food market where, in the regular course of business, animals are stored alive and sold to consumers for the purpose of human consumption,” and;
- “Animal” means frogs, turtles, and birds sold for the purpose of human consumption, with the exception of poultry [at a live animal market].
The overall concern of this bill is an overreaching, knee-jerk approach to live animal zoonoses. Animal rights and deceitful “enviro” groups are capitalizing on the COVID-19 crisis in efforts to ban all animals from our lives. It does not matter if the animals are bred under human care. Even domesticated species bred domestically are being attacked. These groups want them all banned and they are spreading misinformation widely and spending millions of dollars to lobby legislators. So while SB376 does not seem too concerning, there are risks involved with it as well as the many other proposals we will see at all levels of government.
Information for submitting Position Letters (opposition/support) can be found at https://sntr.senate.ca.gov/content/position-letters.