05 May 2009

How big is the pet trade?

In the new issue of Science, Smith and colleagues present some interesting information on import of wild animals.

Over half a million shipments of wildlife containing >1.48 billion live animals have been imported by the United States since 2000. ... The majority (92%) of imports were designated for commercial purposes, largely the pet trade.

Yup, that’s billion with a “b.”

The authors specifically comment on HR 669.

In its current form, H.R. 669 does not consider the economic benefits of wildlife trade. We argue that it should. H.R. 669 requires evaluation of the threat imported wildlife species pose as invasive species or carriers of known pathogens before importation. It proposes creation of lists of species “approved” or “unapproved” for import. Although the Act recognizes that there are species for which adequate scientific and commercial evidence is not yet available to make an evaluation of import risk, it does not stipulate how such species should be handled. For these species, we propose that H.R 669 should require their temporary placement on a “gray list.” These gray-listed species should receive priority funding for risk analysis.

Subcommittee hearings have been held, but no report has been made.


Smith KF, Behrens M, Schloegel LM, Marano N, Burgiel S, Daszak P. 2009. Reducing the risks of the wildlife trade. Science 324(5927): 594. doi: 10.1126/science.1174460

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