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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Where We Stand: The Lacey Act and our Law Enforcement Work

There have been many allegations and rumors in news reports about an investigation that involves the Gibson Guitar Corporation. While we can’t comment on the specifics of this or any ongoing investigation, we want to correct misrepresentations that have been reported in the media. 

First, every law enforcement investigation undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is initiated and overseen by law enforcement professionals, following all legal procedures. Our law enforcement efforts focus on illegal activities that represent a threat to wildlife and plant resources.

A number of conservation laws guide our work. One of these laws is called the Lacey Act. The Act was first passed in 1900 and has been amended several times since, most recently by a bipartisan Congress in 2008. The Lacey Act is a key tool in combating organized illegal trafficking in wildlife, fish, and plants and plant products – including some commonly found in consumer products, like musical instruments.

The Lacey Act is one of several laws and international treaties that aim to protect animal and plant species from extinction.  Specifically, the bipartisan amendments to the Lacey Act in 2008 aimed in part to reduce illegal logging around the world, help the U.S. and other nations manage their own natural resources responsibly, and protect U.S. timber producers from the importation of illegally harvested and smuggled foreign logs.
 
Under the Lacey Act, we focus our law enforcement where it counts:  Principally, on those who knowingly transact in larger volumes of illegal products.   People who, despite exercising due care as consumers, unknowingly possess a consumer product, like a musical instrument or other object containing wood that may have been illegally obtained do not have criminal exposure. 

To be clear: individual consumers and musicians are not the focus of any U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement investigations pertaining to the Lacey Act, and have no need for concern about confiscation of their instruments by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Read the letter sent to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton

Information for musicians and manufacturers of musical instruments


I'm wondering if other guitar companies are being investigated, or are "they" just singling out Gibson? I've seen Ibanez guitars with Ebony fretboards, what about Fender? Guild? Hagstrom? Why am I only hearing about Gibson?
# Posted By matiac | 9/28/11 2:24 PM

As I understand it matiac this case involves a specific importation with irregular paperwork.
# Posted By | 9/29/11 10:00 PM

What about confiscation at borders by DHS or others? It already IS an issue by the border patrols.

Politispeak doesn't cut it for international traveling musicians.
# Posted By Bill C | 10/2/11 12:42 PM

TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT!! This is clearly a target at Gibson and as far as I am concerned they can have my instrument only when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.
# Posted By RJNashcat | 10/13/11 5:38 PM

The big concern for me is whether I can take my guitar overseas without it being confiscated by customs in the USA or by another government. It would be helpful if this issue could be addressed by FWS.
# Posted By JimmyB | 10/26/11 11:03 PM

Here's an idea, our Dept of US Fish & Wildlife needs to not worry about other Countries wood issues. Why waste our tax dollars on Goverments who is alright with selling off their resources? I call BS!
# Posted By Al J. | 5/19/12 3:22 AM

"To be clear: individual consumers and musicians are not the focus of any U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement investigations pertaining to the Lacey Act, and have no need for concern about confiscation of their instruments by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."And why should we trust you to keep to this supposed policy, without having an amendment to Lacey which specifically states this? In case you haven't figured this out, most people do not trust the government and we known you can change your "focus" of enforcement at any time. That's why we need the law to be changed to protect musicians explicitly. No sane person should have an issue with that, and protecting people who own instruments made prior to the 2008 amendment clearly will have no impact on future enforcement of Lacey. Unless your real agenda is just to scare the hell out of people and come across as heavy handed government thugs, you would welcome this clarification of the scope of the law.
# Posted By | 11/17/12 11:43 PM
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