Federal Statutes

Statute by categorysort ascending Citation Summary
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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - Trade - Tariff Act of 1930 19 USCA § 1481

This federal law outlines the requirements for importation invoices.

US - Taxation - Evading Tax 26 U.S.C. § 7201

This federal law provides that any person who willfully evades or attempts to evade taxes shall be guilty of a felony.

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

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

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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) 21 U.S.C.A. § 451 - 472

PPIA regulates the processing and distribution of poultry products. To ensure that poultry is fit for human consumption, it forbids the buying, selling, transporting and importing of dead, dying, disabled, or diseased poultry and products made from poultry that died other than by slaughter. PPIA requires certain sanitary, labeling and container standards to prevent the sale of adulterated or misbranded poultry products. Violations may result in a fine and/or imprisoned.

US - Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 - Chapter 68. Disaster Relief 42 U.S.C.A. § 5196 - 5196d

The FEMA Administrator is directed to develop emergency preparedness plans that take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals prior to, during, and following a major disaster or emergency. The Administrator must also ensure that state and local emergency preparedness plans take into account the needs of such individuals. The Administrator may make financial contributions to the States and local authorities for animal emergency preparedness purposes to accommodate people with pets and service animals.

US - Patent - Patentability of Inventions and Grant of Patents 35 USC 103

The Patent Act governs the law of patents in the United States.  Currently, the Patent and Trademark Office functions to issue patents, for which genetically engineered animal species may legally be patented in the United States. For more, see the Topical Introduction to Genetic Engineering and Animals.

US - Native American - RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) 42 USC 2000bb-1

RFRA provides that the government may not substantially burden an individual's free exercise of religion unless it is in furtherance of a compelling government interest and it is done through the least restrictive means.  For discussion of federal Eagle Act, see Detailed Discussion .

US - Native American - American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIFRA) 42 USC 1996

This act created an executive policy of respect for Native American religious ideas and practices.  While it does not create any substantive right of action by a Native American, AIFRA has been used substantiate claims against federal acts that infringe the exercise of Native American religions (policy affirmed by a 1994 executive order).  For discussion of federal Eagle Act, see Detailed Discussion .

US - MMPA - Legislative History of 1972 U.S.C.C.A.N. 4144, 1971 WL 11285 (Leg.Hist.)

This document contains most of the legislative history surrounding the 1972 adoption of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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 - Meat - Chapter 12. Meat Inspection. 21 U.S.C.A. § 601 - 695

The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 (FMIA) was enacted to prevent adulterated or misbranded meat and meat products from being sold as food and to ensure that meat and meat products are slaughtered and processed under sanitary conditions. The Act requires covered meat products to be labeled and packaged in accordance with the chapter to effectively regulate commerce and protect the health and welfare of consumers.

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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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.

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.


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 - 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 - Housing - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 29 USC 794

In the context of housing discrimination, this statute creates the rule that public housing authorities cannot deny housing to a disabled person solely because of his or her disability, and that if a reasonable accommodation can be made to make housing available to a disabled person, the landlord is required to make the accommodation. To establish a prima facie case of housing discrimination, the tenant must establish four elements: (1) tenant is an individual with a disability; (2) tenant is "otherwise qualified" to receive the benefit; (3) tenant was denied the benefit of the program solely by reason of his or her disability; and (4) the program receives federal financial assistance.

US - Housing - FHA Definitions ( Section 705. Definitions) 29 USC 705(20)(B)

Sec. 504 provides the federal definition of "disability" (part 9) and "handicap" (part 20).

US - Housing - Fair Housing. Subchapter I. Generally. Section 3602. Definitions. 42 U.S.C.A. 3601 - 3604 The following sections of the Fair Housing Act relate to "reasonable accommodations" for persons with a handicap or disability. In Section 3602, the definition of "handicap" includes a person with: (1) a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities; (2) a record of having such an impairment, or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment. Section 3604 is the operative part of the law that makes it unlawful to discriminate because of a handicap in the sale or rental of a dwelling. Under subsection (3)(B), the law states that discrimination includes the refusal to make "reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling."
US - Horses - Sale of Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros PL 108-447

These amendments to the Wild Horses Act, 16 U.S.C.A. § 1333, amended by Public Law 108-447, allow for the sale of animals for commercial purposes in some circumstances, specifically when the excess animal is more than 10 years old, or has been unsuccessfully offered for adoption on at least 3 occasions.  Once the excess animal is sold, it will no longer be considered a wild free-roaming horse or burro according to this Act.

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 - 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 - Grazing - Taylor Grazing Act 43 USC 315 - 315r

Statute empowers Secretary of the Interior to establish and oversee grazing districts on federal land via a system of permits.

US - Golden Eagle - Protection Public Law 87-884; 76 Stat. 1246 (1962)

This public law amended the Eagle Protection Act by adding golden eagles as a protected species under the Act.  The Joint Resolution states that the golden eagle was added under the Act not only because it too faced extinction, but its listing would further protect the bald eagle, as the two species are sometimes mistaken for each other.  For further discussion, see the Eagle Act Detailed Discussion.

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 - 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 - Food Labeling - Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act 21 U.S.C. § 341 - 343

The United States Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act is a set of laws passed by Congress that gives authority to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to oversee the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics.

US - Food Animal - Twenty Eight Hour Law 49 USC 80502

This Federal law addresses the transportation of animals, including those raised for food or in food production, across state lines. The statute provides that animals cannot be transported by "rail carrier, express carrier or common carrier" (except by air or water) for more than 28 consecutive hours without being unloaded for five hours for rest, water and food.

US - Food Animal - Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter 7 USC 1901 - 1907

These statutory sections comprise what is commonly termed the Humane Slaughter Act.  Included in these sections are Congress' statement that livestock must be slaughtered in a humane manner to prevent needless suffering, research methods on humane methods of slaughter, the nonapplicability of these statutes to religious or ritual slaughter, and the investigation into the care of nonambulatory livestock.

US - Fisheries - Pelly Amendment (§ 1978) 22 USC 1978

Restriction on importation of fishery or wildlife products from countries which violate international fishery or endangered or threatened species programs

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 - 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 - Environmental - National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 42 USC 4321 - 4370h

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions. To meet this requirement, federal agencies prepare a detailed statement known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). EPA reviews and comments on EISs prepared by other federal agencies, maintains a national filing system for all EISs, and assures that its own actions comply with NEPA.

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.