The Lacey Act & State Agencies

The Lacey Act is America's champion legislation against wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade.

President William McKinley signed the Lacey Act into law on May 25, 1900--the nation's first first legislation in the conservation of fish and wildlife resources.

Today, the Lacey Act remains one our most important conservation statutes and a powerful enforcement tool for protecting wildlife across the country and supporting conservation worldwide. When state enforcement isn’t enough in the fight against wildlife trafficking and invasive species, federal enforcement—provided through the Lacey Act—can be used to address egregious cases and disrupt large-scale, illegal activities.

The Lacey Act:

  • Protects resources by creating civil and criminal penalties for a wide array of natural resource violations. Most importantly, it prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any U.S. law or Indian tribal law.

  • Helps counter domestic commercialization threats through application of law pertaining to the Act by exposing large-scale criminal operations profiteering in the illegal commercial exploitation of wildlife and plant resources in violation of state, tribal or federal law.

  • Provides protection for legal businesses that operate legitimately and manage natural resources responsibly. By exposing illegitimate businesses involved in the commercial exploit of illegally obtained wildlife in violation of U.S. and tribal laws, enforcement through the Lacey Act helps eliminate the possibility of unfair market prices and allows a level playing field for legal businesses and industries.

  • Disrupts the smuggling and interstate trade in foreign and shared species that are protected and regulated under federal and international laws and treaties. The Act’s provisions enable the prosecution of charges against international organized crime rings and individuals who knowingly traffic in the world’s most imperiled or important natural resources.

  •  Includes provisions that help combat the harmful effects of species deemed to be injurious—a term used to classify wildlife and their offspring or gametes that pose a threat to the interests of human beings, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wildlife or wildlife resources in the Unite States. Once a species is listed as injurious, it may not be transported over state lines or imported into the country without specific permits issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, thus helping to fill gaps in laws and addressing variations in state laws regarding these species.

  • Promotes the conservation of the nation’s resources through enforcement of the Act for future generations of sportsmen and women, outdoor enthusiasts and legal businesses.  




©2017 | Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

State Agencies' Social Media | Contact Us | Careers | Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Trust Funds | Terms + Privacy | Photos | Success Stories