Federal Statutes

Statute by category Citationsort descending Summary
US - AWA - Animal Welfare Act Decisions

This document contains references to both court decisions and administrative proceedings under the Animal Welfare Act on a section by section basis.

US - Horse - Chapter 44. Protection of Horses. 15 U.S.C.A. § 1821 - 1831

The Federal Horse Protection Act of December 2, 1970, states that causing horses to be "sore" or to suffer physical pain and distress for the purpose of improving the horse's performance is cruel and inhumane. This set of statutes describes both lawful and unlawful conduct against horses as well as the civil and criminal penalties that are in place for violating this Act.

US - Fur - Subchapter IV. Labeling of Fur Products 15 USCA § 69 et seq.

The Fur Products Labeling Act, 15 U.S.C. § 69, declares that fur products will be considered “misbranded” if “falsely or deceptively labeled” or identified, and/or if the product does not contain a label that legibly shows the name(s) of the animals from which the fur was taken, the name or other identification of the person(s) who manufactured the fur, and the country of origin of the fur.  The label must also state, if true, that the fur product contains used or artificially colored fur, and/or if it is “composed in whole or in substantial part of paws, tails, bellies, or waste fur.”  However, the law defines “fur product” as an article of clothing that is made in whole or in part by fur, but states that the Commission can exempt articles because of the small quantity of fur they contain.  The Federal Trade Commission has deemed “relatively small quantity or value” to equal $150, which means “multiple animal pelts [can exist] on a garment without a label.”

US - Eagle - Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act 16 U.S.C. 668a - d The BGEPA prohibits any form of possession or taking of both bald and golden eagles through criminal and civil sanctions as well as an enhanced penalty provision for subsequent offenses.  Further, the BGEPA provides for the forfeiture of anything used to acquire eagles in violation of the statute.  The statute excepts from its prohibitions on possession the use of eagles or eagle parts for exhibition, scientific, and Indian religious uses. For more, see the Topical Introduction to the BGEPA.
US - Conservation - Fish & Wildlife Improvement Act of 1978 16 U.S.C. 742l

The Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act of 1978 authorizes the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to establish, conduct, and assist with national training programs for State fish and wildlife law enforcement personnel. It also authorized funding for research and development of new or improved methods to support fish and wildlife law enforcement.  The law provides authority to the Secretaries to enter into law enforcement cooperative agreements with State or other Federal agencies, and authorizes the disposal of abandoned or forfeited items under the fish, wildlife, and plant jurisdictions of these Secretaries.

US - Wildlife - Chapter 23. National Wilderness Preservation System. 16 U.S.C.A. §§ 1131 - 1136 Establishes a National Wilderness Preservation System to be composed of federally owned areas designated by Congress as "wilderness areas." Also provides for the administration and preservation of these wilderness areas.
US - Sharks - Chapter 38. Fishery Conservation and Management 16 U.S.C.A. § 1857

The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 amended § 1857 of the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The amendment effectively closed a loophole that allowed vessels to transport illegally obtained shark fins so long as no sharks were finned aboard the vessel. The act makes it illegal to remove any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) at sea; to have custody, control, or possession of any such fin aboard a fishing vessel unless it is naturally attached to the corresponding carcass; to transfer any such fin from one vessel to another vessel at sea, or to receive any such fin in such transfer, without the fin naturally attached to the corresponding carcass; or to land any such fin that is not naturally attached to the corresponding carcass, or to land any shark carcass without such fins naturally attached. Essentially, all sharks must be brought aboard with their fins attached. There is a rebuttable presumption under the Act that if any shark fin (including the tail) is found aboard a vessel, other than a fishing vessel, without being naturally attached to the corresponding carcass, such fin was transferred in violation of the Act.

US - Whales - Whaling Convention Act 16 U.S.C.A. § 916 - 916l

These federal statutes describe the Whaling Convention Act which granted authority to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Commerce for regulation. The Act makes it unlawful for any person in the United States to engage in whaling, transporting, or selling any whale or whale products, that are taken or processed in violation of the Act. The Act also prohibits other unlawful conduct such as whaling without a license and failing to keep required returns, records, and reports.  Finally, the Act provide penalties for violations including a fine of not more than $10,000, imprisonment of not more than one year, or both. In addition the court may prohibit such person from whaling for a period of time.

US - Whales - Chapter 14A. Whale Conservation and Protection. 16 U.S.C.A. § 917 - 917d

These statutes extended federal authority and responsibility over the conservation and protection of all mammals including certain species of whales. The statutes also granted the Secretary of Commerce with authority to complete a comprehensive study of all whales in an effort to conserve and protect them effectively.

US - Seal - Chapter 24. Conservation and Protection of North Pacific Fur Seals. 16 USC 1151 - 1187

The Fur Seal Act of 1966 prohibited, except under specified conditions, the taking, including transportation, importing or possession, of fur seals and sea otters. Exceptions are authorized for Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos who dwell on the coasts of the North Pacific Ocean, who are permitted to take fur seals and dispose of their skins. The statute also authorized the Secretary of Interior to conduct scientific research on the fur seal resources of the North Pacific Ocean.

US - Horse - Wild Horses and Burros Act 16 USC 1331 - 1340

The Wild Horses and Burros Act approved December 15, 1971, provides for protection of wild, free-roaming horses and burros. It directs the Bureau of Land Management of the Department of the Interior and Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture to manage such animals on public lands under their jurisdiction.

US - Marine Mammal Protection Act - Annotated Guide 16 USC 1361 - 1421h

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) is the main regulatory vehicle that protects marine mammal species and their habitats in an effort to main sustainable populations. In doing so, the statute outlines prohibitions, required permits, criminal and civil penalties, and international aspects in addressing marine mammals.  This document provides a table of contents for the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) with links to the specific statutory sections.

US - Marine Mammals- Marine Mammal Protection Act 16 USC 1361 - 1421h The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) is the main regulatory vehicle that protects marine mammal species and their habitats in an effort to main sustainable populations. In doing so, the statute outlines prohibitions, required permits, criminal and civil penalties, and international aspects in addressing marine mammals. Included in the MMPA are provisions to protect dolphins from ocean vessels that harvest tuna with purse seine nets; provisions to protect polar bear; provisions that establish the Marine Mammal Commission and that agency's duties; and provisions for the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, including funding for standing response and unusual mortality events. The Act's 1972 Legislative History is also included.
US - Endangered Species - Chapter 35. Endangered Species. 16 USC 1531 - 1544

This is key law at the national level for the listing and protecting of endangered species and their critical habitat. It also implements the US obligations under the treaty CITES. For more, see the Topical Introduction to the ESA.

US - Fisheries - Packwood-Magnuson Amendment 16 USC 1801 - 1803

Aim of statute is the development of United States' controlled fishing conservation and management program designed to prevent overfishing and to rebuild depleted stock.

US - Conservation - Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act 16 USC 2901 - 2912

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, approved September 29, 1980, authorizes financial and technical assistance to the States for the development, revision, and implementation of conservation plans and programs for nongame fish and wildlife. The original Act authorized $5 million for each of Fiscal Years 1982 through 1985, for grants for development and implementation of comprehensive State nongame fish and wildlife plans and for administration of the Act. It also required the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study potential mechanisms for funding these activities and report to Congress by March 1984.

US - Lacey Act - Chapter 53. Control of Illegally Taken Fish and Wildlife. 16 USC 3371 - 3378

The Lacey Act provides that it is unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any fish or wildlife or plant taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in violation of any Indian tribal law whether in interstate or foreign commerce.  All plants or animals taken in violation of the Act are subject to forfeiture as well as all vessels, vehicles, aircraft, and other equipment used in the process. For more, see the Topical Introduction to the Lacey Act.

US - Elephant - African Elephant Conservation Act 16 USC 4201 - 4246

A U.S. federal law that reaffirms the endangered status of African elephants and allocates money toward conservation efforts.

US - Elephant - Asian Elephant Conservation Act 16 USC 4261 - 4266

A U.S. federal law that reaffirms the endangered status of Asian elephants and allocates money toward conservation efforts.

US - Exotic Birds - Wild Exotic Bird Conservation Act 16 USC 4901 - 4916

The Wild Exotic Bird Conservation Act addresses the population threat to non-indigenous wild birds due to the demand the from U.S. as the number one importer of exotic birds (e.g., the "pet" bird trade).  Exceptions under the statute include qualified breeding facilities, scientific or zoological study, and people returning the U.S. who have been out of the country for more than a year (limited to two birds).

US - Rhinoceros - Chapter 73. Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation. 16 USC 5301 - 5306

The purpose of the Act is to assist in the conservation of rhinoceros and tigers by supporting the conservation programs of nations whose activities affect rhinoceros and tiger populations, as well as those of the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The Act also provides financial resources for those programs.

US - Apes - Great Apes Conservation Act of 2000 16 USC 6301 - 6305 The law assists in the conservation of great apes by supporting and providing financial resources for the conservation programs of countries within the range of great apes. Under the law, Great apes include the chimpanzee, gorilla, bonobo, orangutan, and gibbon. The law authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, through the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, to award grants to entities that will promote the conservation of great apes in the wild. The authorization for appropriations is $5 million per year through 2005 with 3% or $80,000, whichever is greater, expended to administer the grants program.
US - Conservation - Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act 16 USC 661 - 667e

The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661-667e) of 1934 authorizes the Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce to provide assistance to and cooperate with Federal and State agencies to protect, rear, stock, and increase the supply of game and fur-bearing animals, as well as to study the effects of domestic sewage, trade wastes, and other polluting substances on wildlife.  In addition, this Act authorizes the preparation of plans to protect wildlife resources, the completion of wildlife surveys on public lands, and the acceptance by the Federal agencies of funds or lands for related purposes provided that land donations received the consent of the State in which they are located.

US - Funding State - Pittman-Roberson Act (Chapter 5B. Wildlife Restoration) 16 USC 669 - 669k

The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to cooperate with the States, through their respective State fish and game departments, in wildlife-restoration projects.  However, no money shall be expended until the state in question assents to the provisions of this chapter and has passed laws for the conservation of wildlife, which includes a prohibition against the diversion of license fees paid by hunters for any other purpose than the administration of the fish and game department. 

US - Migratory Bird - Migratory Bird Treaty Act 16 USC 703 - 712

This law implements the treaties that the US has signed with a number of countries protecting birds that migrate across our national borders.  It makes illegal the taking, possessing or selling of protected species. For more, see the Topical Introduction to the MBTA.

US - Migratory - Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act 16 USC 718 - 718k

The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act, or the "Duck Stamp Act," as this March 16, 1934, authority is commonly called, requires each waterfowl hunter 16 years of age or older to possess a valid Federal hunting stamp.  Receipts from the sale of the stamp are deposited in a special Treasury account known as the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and are not subject to appropriations.  A contest is held each year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to select the design of the stamp.

US - Conservation - Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 16 USC 742a - 742j

The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a-742j, not including 742 d-l; 70 Stat. 1119), establishes a comprehensive national fish, shellfish, and wildlife resources policy with emphasis on the commercial fishing industry but also with a direction to administer the Act with regard to the inherent right of every citizen and resident to fish for pleasure, enjoyment, and betterment and to maintain and increase public opportunities for recreational use of fish and wildlife resources.  Among other things, it directs a program of continuing research, extension, and information services on fish and wildlife matters, both domestically and internationally.

US - Hunting - Airborne Hunting Act 16 USC 742j-1

This Act approved November 18, 1971 added to the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 a new section 13 (16 U.S.C. 742j-l), which is commonly referred to as the Airborne Hunting Act or Shooting from Aircraft Act, prohibits shooting or attempting to shoot or harassing any bird, fish, or other animal from aircraft except for certain specified reasons, including protection of wildlife, livestock, and human life as authorized by a Federal or State issued license or permit. States authorized to issue permits are required to file reports with the Secretary of the Interior containing information on any permits issued.

US - Invasive - Chapter 67. Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control 16 USCS 4701 - 4751

The Act focuses on all aquatics, including aquatic plants. The Act created the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, which  is an intergovernmental organization, administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, committed to preventing and controlling aquatic nuisance species and implementing the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act. The Task Force coordinates Federal governmental efforts dealing with aquatic nuisance species with those of state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and the private sector.

US - Cruelty - § 48. Animal crush videos 18 U.S.C.A. § 48

This federal law prohibits the creation and distribution of "animal crush videos." Violation incurs a fine and imprisonment of up to 7 years. Exceptions under the law include normal veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices, the slaughter of animals for food, and the practices of hunting, fishing, or trapping.

US - Importation - Fraud and False Statements 18 USC § 1001

Under this federal law, fraudulent statements, orally or in writing, may result in a fine and or imprisonment.

US - Lacey Act - Conspiracy Statute 18 USC § 371

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.

US - Crimes - Chapter 3. Animals, Birds, Fish, and Plants. 18 USCA § 43

This federal law provides for crime and penalties for animal enterprise terrorism.

US - Smuggling - Anti-Smuggling Statute 18 USCA § 545

This federal law provides punishment for smuggling merchandise (including animals) into the United States.

US - Importation - Mailing of Injurious Article 18 USCS § 1716

All kinds of poison, all articles and compositions containing poison, all poisonous animals, insects, reptiles, all explosives, inflammable materials, infernal machines, and mechanical, chemical, or other devices or compositions which may ignite or explode, all disease germs or scabs, and all other natural or artificial articles, compositions, or material which may kill or injure another, or injure the mails or other property, whether or not sealed as first-class matter, are nonmailable matter and shall not be conveyed in the mails or delivered from any post office or station thereof, nor by any officer or employee of the Postal Service.


Under this federal law, no importation of certain listed animals is permitted. Whoever violates this section, or any regulation issued pursuant thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

US - Prohibition on importation of dog and cat fur products - Chapter 4. Tariff Act of 1930. 19 U.S.C.A. § 1308

This federal statute prohibits commerce in dog or cat fur.  Specifically, the statute forbids import into, or export from, the United States of any dog or cat fur product; or the introduction into interstate commerce, manufacture for introduction into interstate commerce, sell, trade, or advertise in interstate commerce, offer to sell, or transport or distribute in interstate commerce in the United States, any dog or cat fur product.  The exception under the act is for the importation, exportation, or transportation, for noncommercial purposes, of a personal pet that is deceased, including a pet preserved through taxidermy.

US - Trade - Tariff Act of 1930 19 USCA § 1481

This federal law outlines the requirements for importation invoices.

US - AWA - 1966 Public Law 89-544 1966 PL 89-544

As stated in Senate Report No. 1280 there were three main purposes for the proposed law in 1966: (1) to protect the owners of pet dogs and cats from the theft of their pets; (2) to prevent the use or sale of stolen dogs or cats for purposes of research or experimentation; and (3) to establish humane standards for the treatment of dogs, cats, and certain other animals by animal dealers and research facilities.

US - AWA - 1970 Public Law 91-579 1970 PL 91-579

There were four areas of significant change to the AWA in the 1970 amendments: (1) the definition of "animal" was expanded to include warm-blooded animals generally, (2) more human entities were brought under the regulatory provisions of the Act: animal exhibitors (i.e., circuses, zoos and roadside shows), and wholesale pet dealers, (3) the lab door of research facilities was opened more, requiring that certain humane standards be maintained at all times, (4) the Secretary's enforcement powers were strengthened and protection for government inspectors was provided from individuals who interfered with enforcement actions under the Act.

US - AWA - 1976 Public Law 94-279 1976 PL 94-279

The 1976 Amendments of the AWA dealt with several new topics: (1) transportation carriers and intermediate handlers of animals were brought under the provisions of the Act, (2) a number of specific transportation problems were addressed by Congress, (3) a new provision was added which made it a crime to knowingly sponsor, participate in, transport, or use the mails to promote fights between live birds, live dogs or other mammals, (4) the penalty provisions were rewritten, allowing the broad use of civil fines.

US - Tuna Fishing - Legislative History of the MMPA (1981) 1981 U.S.C.C.A.N. 1458

This legislative history outlines the background and analysis of the 1981 amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Of particular note is the discussion related to the "zero mortality" goal for dolphins in the tuna fishing industry.

US - AWA - 1985 Public Law 99-198 1985 PL 99-198

The set of amendments that Congress adopted in December of 1985 focused almost entirely on the issue of animal research, (1) the minimum level of care is stated with more specificity, (2) animal research facilities are required to create Institutional Animal Committees, which include the presence of a public member from outside the facility, (3) trade secrets of research facilities are protected by a new section of the AWA.

US - Tuna Fishing - Legislative History of the MMPA (1988) 1988 WL 169926

This legislative history provides the background and section by section analysis of the 1988 amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  As in 1981, the focus of the amendments rests with the mortality of dolphins from the tuna fishing industry.

US - AWA - 1990 Public Law 101-624 1990 PL 101-624 Enacted November 28, 1990, this public law amends the Animal Welfare Act by establishing holding period for dogs and cats at shelters and other holding facilities before sale to dealers. It requires dealers to provide written certification regarding each animal's background to the recipient. Specific items included on the certificate are mechanisms of enforcement, injunctions, and penalties for violation.
US - AWA - 1995 Public Law 104-88 1995 PL 104-88 Public Law 104-88 amended the Animal Welfare act by striking Interstate Commerce Commission and adding Surface Transportation Board.
US - AWA - 2002 Public Law 107-171 2002 PL 107-171 Enacted January 23, 2002, the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act changed the definition of "animal" in the Animal Welfare Act to specifically exclude birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research. The law also addressed animal fighting ventures by making it a misdemeanor to ship a bird in interstate commerce for fighting purposes, or to sponsor to exhibit a bird in a fight that had been shipped for such purposes.
US - Rodent - Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003 2004 P.L. 108-16; 2004 P.L. 105-322

Nutria are large, semi-aquatic rodents that are native to South America and have invaded the marshland of certain U.S. states.  There are no natural predators to control nutria, no market for their fur, and private trappers have failed to keep pace with the animals' ability to reproduce.  P.L. 108-16 of 2003  and P.L. 105-322 of 1998 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial assistance to the States of Maryland and Louisiana for a program to implement measures to: (1)eradicate nutria in Maryland; (2)eradicate or control nutria in Louisiana and other States; and (3) restore marshland damaged by nutria.

US - MBTA - Senate Bill 2547 An Act to Amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) 2004 Senate Bill 2547

This Act, now known as the Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act (MBTRA), revamps the MBTA by excluding species of birds that are "non-native" to the United States.  Under the bill, a bird species shall not be treated as native to the United States if the species occurs in the United States solely as a result of intentional or unintentional human-assisted introduction after the date of adoption of the treaty in 1918.  As a result, some 94 species of birds currently protected under the treaty would lose their protected status.

US - AWA - 2007 Public Law110-22 2007 PL 110-22 The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007 was signed into law on May 3, 2007. The law upgrades current penalties by creating felony-level jail time (up to 3 years) for violations of the federal animal fighting law, and it also prohibits interstate and foreign commerce of cockfighting weapons (e.g., knife, gaff, etc.).