[Federal Register: April 29, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 82)]

[Rules and Regulations]               

[Page 23022-23025]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]





Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 14

RIN 1018-AE08


Importation, Exportation, and Transportation of Wildlife (User 

Fee Exemptions for Qualified Fur Trappers)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) are revising 

our regulations providing for user fee collections from commercial 

importers and exporters of wildlife and wildlife products. We provide a 

fee exemption to trappers of fur-bearing wildlife operating small, low 

volume businesses engaged in wildlife trade on a small scale where 

there is relatively low cash flow, to individuals who trap fur-bearing 

wildlife from the wild as a hobby or to supplement their income and who 

do not deal in manufactured products or live animals as a primary means 

of income. The exemption from our inspection fee will apply to 

commercial importers and exporters based upon specific criteria, 

including country of origin, numbers of items, and permitting 

requirements. We therefore modify our user fee regulations to grant 

this relief to certain individuals and small businesses, meeting the 

outlined criteria, from the designated port inspection fees, non-

designated port administrative fees, and hourly minimums only. This 

rule still allows us to continue to collect data on fee collections in 

order to analyze the impact of user fees on small business for future 

decision making.

DATES: This rule is effective June 1, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Send correspondence concerning this rule to the Director, 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 3247, Arlington, Virginia 

22203-3247. The complete file for this final rule is available for 

public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin R. Adams, Chief, Office of Law 

Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the 

Interior, (703) 358-1949.



Summary of Public Participation

    We received 39 comments on the proposed rule published on January 

22, 1998 (63 FR 3298) 13 of which were submitted by individuals who we 

classified as non-consumptive users, i.e., those that do not hunt or 

trap wildlife. In addition, 11 comments were received from non-

consumptive organizations such as the Animal Welfare Institute, Animal 

Protection Institute, International Primate Protection League, The 

Humane Society of the United States, and The American Society For The 

Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals.

    We received four comments from individuals who were consumptive 

users of wildlife and four from consumptive user organizations such as 

the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Safari 

Club International, the Alaska Trappers Association, and the National 

Trappers Association. The states of Alaska, Illinois, Louisiana, and 

Nebraska also sent in comments to the proposed rule. We received three 

comments soliciting exemptions for tropical fish imports, and 

commercially raised quail and pheasant imports from Canada. We did not 

address these comments; they did not pertain to this rule.

Issues Raised in Public Comments, and Service Responses

    Comment: The Service needs the current fee structure as it is 

designed to allow the Service to pay for the inspection program. Any 

exemptions would begin to erode the Service's ability to conduct 

critical inspections of wildlife being imported and exported.

    Response: We acknowledge that the Service utilizes collected fees 

to support

[[Page 23023]]

its inspection program. However, the amounts charged for inspections on 

certain small businesses, such as low volume subsistence trappers in 

Alaska, may be prohibitive and cause an undue burden. We believe that 

proposed exemptions will allow low volume trappers to continue their 

business without undue hardship.

    Comment: Giving an exemption to low volume trappers of fur-bearing 

wildlife will only ``open the door'' for other small businesses to 

demand an exemption, thereby jeopardizing further the Service's ability 

to recoup inspection costs.

    Response: It is likely that other people who have businesses may 

feel the need to also ask for an exemption. We believe, however, that 

in the case of the low-volume trapper, the exemptions may be warranted 

due to:

    <bullet> The nature of their small low-volume businesses engaged in 

wildlife trade on a small scale where there is relatively low cash 


    <bullet> Individuals who trap fur-bearing wildlife from the wild as 

a hobby or to supplement their income;

    <bullet> Those who do not deal in manufactured products or live 

animals as a primary means of income.

    Comment: The Service's criteria of 100 skins or less is meaningless 

because large volume shippers will manipulate numbers of furs and skins 

per shipment to illegally qualify for the exemption.

    Response: We have the ability to monitor the volume of importing 

and exporting by a business or individual and feel that we will be able 

to detect attempts to subvert the fee system by manipulating shipments.

    Comment: Why does the Service inspect Convention on International 

Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) furs that have already been 

inspected and tagged by the State of Alaska. Inspecting shipments of 

these furs upon export is redundant and does not need to be done.

    Response: We inspect shipments containing wildlife protected under 

CITES upon export and import to ensure that the proper permits are 

present, the shipment is properly declared, and for record keeping and 

reporting purposes. The State of Alaska places CITES tags on pelts 

taken in Alaska because most pelts are exported to Canada. However, 

having a CITES tag affixed to a pelt and the act of exporting are two 

separate issues requiring different actions. We also inspect imports 

and exports to ensure compliance with Service regulations.

    Comment: Why doesn't the Service maintain the old system of a 

$25,000 dollar value exemption for small businesses?

    Response: Since 1988, there have been four major studies of our 

import/export user fee policies. One recommendation consistently made 

in these studies was to revise our user fee policies and rates to 

recover the full cost of services provided to individuals and 

businesses. We therefore adjusted our fees for certain activities in 

order to recover the actual costs of services provided for all 

commercial import/export activities.

    Comment: The Service's proposed rule does not go far enough in 

exempting user fees. The Service should also remove the commercial 

import/export license requirement for trappers.

    Response: The studies that analyzed our import/export policies also 

recommended that we license all commercial importers and exporters of 

wildlife and wildlife products. As a result, we decided to license all 

commercial importers and exporters. We believe the $50 per year 

licensing requirement is fair and affordable and will not be waived.

    Comment: The upper limit of 100 furs per shipment is arbitrary and 

should be increased to 1000 per shipment because the price a trapper 

gets for furs and pelts is not high enough to offset the costs of 


    Response: We chose the upper limit of 100 furs per shipment because 

we feel this number adequately represents a low volume of shipping 

activity. Accordingly, small businesses and individuals who qualify 

will not have to pay inspection fees in certain situations. Therefore, 

we believe the upper limit of 100 furs per shipment is appropriate.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 establishes as a principle 

of regulatory issuance that ``* * * agencies shall endeavor, consistent 

with the objectives of the rule and of applicable statutes, to fit 

regulatory and informational requirements to the scale of the business, 

organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to regulation.'' 

Therefore, in order to address the immediate concerns of small business 

and maintain consistency with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, we will 

initiate a new licensing and inspection fee system that will accomplish 

two objectives. First, the new system contained in this rule would 

grant immediate relief from the economic burden of the increased 

inspection fees, and/or administrative fees and hourly minimums, to 

importers and exporters of wildlife and wildlife products at designated 

ports, border or special ports, and nondesignated ports that meet 

specific criteria. Second, by continuing to require that all commercial 

importers and exporters be licensed, the new system would allow the 

Service to continue to monitor wildlife import/export activity in order 

to gather the data necessary to make future decisions on the true 

impact of our user fees on small businesses and certain individuals.

Authority Citation

    We will update the authority citation for this part to delete an 

obsolete reference at 31 U.S.C. 483(a) and to reflect the current 

United States Code citation of 31 U.S.C. 9701 regarding fees and 

charges for Government services.

Inspection Fee Exemption Criteria

    We amend the inspection fee system to establish specific criteria 

that we will use to determine if the inspection fee applies at the time 

of import or export. The revision uses distinctions that are already 

established in the regulation. We will use these distinctions to 

establish if the inspection fee applies to wildlife shipments at the 

time of import to or export from the United States. Shipments will have 

to meet several basic criteria in order to qualify for the inspection 

fee exemption.

    The basic exemption criteria are outlined as follows:

    <bullet> The inspection fee exemption will only apply to shipments 

that do NOT require permits under 50 CFR parts 16 (Injurious wildlife), 

17 (Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants), 18 (Marine 

mammals), 21 (Migratory bird permits), or 23 (Endangered species 

convention). Those shipments that contain wildlife that require permits 

will not be eligible for any inspection fee exemption.

    <bullet> The wildlife must have been lawfully taken from the wild 

in the United States, Canada, or Mexico, and imported or exported 

between the United States and Canada or Mexico. Shipments containing 

wildlife taken in any other country and imported or exported between 

any countries other than the United States, Canada, or Mexico will not 

be eligible for the inspection fee exemption. The wildlife shipment 

must be imported or exported by the person who took the wildlife from 

the wild, or by a member of that person's immediate family, provided, 

that the importer or exporter of record is licensed in accordance with 

50 CFR 14.91.

    <bullet> The shipment must consist of raw fur, raw, salted, or 

crusted hides or skins, or separate parts thereof, and the shipment 

cannot exceed 100 raw furs,

[[Page 23024]]

raw, salted, crusted, hides or skins or separate parts thereof. We 

intend that this rulemaking provide financial relief from the burden of 

the inspection fees for small business and certain individuals who may 

be disproportionately affected.

    We believe a cutoff point of 100 raw furs, raw, salted, or crusted 

hides or skins, or separate parts thereof will adequately distinguish 

between small shippers disproportionately affected and those commercial 

wildlife dealers less impacted by the user fee.

    All of the primary criteria for the user fee exemption outlined 

above serve as a means of limiting the exemption application to certain 

individuals or small business, while at the same time maintaining the 

integrity and intent of the user fee rulemaking published on June 21, 

1996 (62 FR 31850). By using distinctions already drawn in the 

regulation, we believe that the criteria represent a balance between 

maintaining user fee revenues and providing small business economic 


    In addition to the primary criteria, we will use additional 

criteria, outlined below, to ensure that the user fee exemption is 

utilized by those intended and to allow for statistical tracking of the 

exemption's use. As stated, the importer or exporter of record who is 

shipping wildlife that otherwise meets the inspection fee exemption 

criteria will still have to obtain an Import/Export License from the 

Service at a cost of $50 annually (see 50 CFR part 14, subpart I). The 

raw fur, raw, salted or crusted hides or skins, or separate parts 

thereof cannot have been previously bought or sold if the inspection 

fee exemption is to apply. The fee exemption will not apply to 

manufactured products or live animals of any kind.

    The reason for the latter two criteria is that the fee exemption is 

intended to apply to small, low volume businesses engaged in wildlife 

trade on a small scale where there is relatively low cash flow, or to 

individuals who take wildlife from the wild as a hobby or to supplement 

their income and who do not deal in manufactured products or live 

animals as a primary means of income. We believe that wildlife traders 

buying and selling imported wildlife in the United States and those 

dealing in manufactured products or live animals require a higher level 

of oversight and are less impacted by the inspection fee.

    The importer or exporter whose wildlife shipments meet the user fee 

exemption criteria will still be required to pay overtime fees or 

designated port exception permit fees if applicable. If wildlife being 

shipped requires a Convention on International Trade in Endangered 

Species (CITES) permit, we will not exempt the shipment from the user 

fee due to the higher level of oversight we require on these shipments.


    In order for us to have some means of verifying that the raw furs, 

raw, salted or crusted hides or skins, or separate parts thereof are, 

in fact, taken from the wild by the licensee who is acting as importer/

exporter of record, or taken from the wild by a member of his or her 

immediate family, the licensee must sign a certification statement 

supplied by us at the time clearance is requested. The certification 

statement will ask that the licensee certify, subject to the penalties 

provided for under 18 U.S.C. 1001 for false or fraudulent statements, 

that he or she took the raw furs, raw, salted, or crusted hides or 

skins, or separate parts thereof from the wild or that they were taken 

from the wild by a member of that person's immediate family. We will 

consider the term ``immediate family'' to mean a licensee's spouse, 

parents, siblings, and children. We believe that extending the meaning 

to include grandparents, cousins, aunts, or uncles would compromise the 

intent of this rule. This signed certification statement will have to 

be presented to a Service officer at the time clearance is requested.

    We intend that this inspection fee exemption framework utilize 

existing regulatory language that grants various exemptions to 50 CFR 

part 14, including Sec. 14.15 and Sec. 14.62. In addition, 50 CFR part 

14 already exempts certain ``classes'' of wildlife from various 

regulatory requirements, including farm-raised fish from the designated 

port requirement on export, aquatic invertebrates of the Class 

Pelecypoda from the designated port and declaration requirement, and 

captive-bred furbearers from the marking requirement. We believe that 

these distinctions are consistent with the intent of the regulation.

    In summary, we will exempt commercial wildlife shipments from the 

designated port inspection fee and/or the nondesignated port 

administrative fee and hourly minimums, whichever applies, for 

shipments meeting the following criteria: no permits are required under 

50 CFR parts 16, 17, 18, 21, or 23; imports or exports are between the 

United States and Canada or Mexico of raw fur, raw, salted, or crusted 

hides or skins, or separate parts thereof, lawfully taken from the wild 

in the United States, Canada, or Mexico; imported or exported by the 

person taking the wildlife from the wild, or taken from the wild by a 

member of the importer or exporters' immediate family; provided, the 

importer or exporter of record is licensed; the shipment or any part 

thereof has not been previously bought or sold; the shipment does not 

exceed 100 raw furs, raw, salted, or crusted, hides or skins, or 

separate parts thereof; the shipment does not contain any manufactured 

products or live animals; overtime fees, if applicable, have been paid; 

and the importer or exporter has attached a certification statement 

stating that the shipment contains items taken from the wild by the 

importer/exporter of record or by a member of that person's immediate 


    The following chart illustrates the commercial user fee charges at 

designated and nondesignated ports during normal working hours before 

the June 21, 1996, final rule, after the August 1, 1996, effective date 

of that final rule, and under this final rule, for comparison:


                                     Prior to June 21, 1996     After August 1, 1996     After September 1, 1998

               Fees                        Final Rule              effective date            effective date


Designated Port..................  Under 25k/year No Charge.  $50/year License Fee....  $50/year License Fee.

                                   $125/year License Fee....  $55/shipment Inspection   $55/shipment Inspection

                                                               Fee.                      Fee if criteria not


                                   $25/Shipment Inspection                              No Charge if criteria

                                    Fee.                                                 met.

Nondesignated Port...............  Under 25K/year No Charge.  $50/year License Fee....  $50/year License Fee.

                                   $125/year License Fee....  $55 Administrative Fee    $55 Administrative Fee

                                                               plus 2 hour minimum at    plus 2 hour minimum at

                                                               $20/hr ($40).             $20/hr ($40) if

                                                                                         criteria not met.

                                   $25/shipment                                         No Charge if criteria

                                    Administrative Fee plus                              met.

                                    2 hour minimum at $25/hr



[[Page 23025]]

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq

    This final rule affects only the requirement to pay an inspection 

fee for shipments and contains no information collections for which 

Office of Management and Budget approval is required under the 

Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501). Importers/exporters subject 

to this rule may be subject to the requirement to file a Declaration 

for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife (FWS form 3-177; OMB 

approval number 1018-0012; expiration date August 31, 2000). This rule 

does not change or affect the information collection requirements 

associated with the declaration form 3-177. An agency may not conduct 

or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to a collection of 

information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

Required Determinations

    The Service has determined that these regulations meet the 

applicable standards provided in Sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive 

Order 12988. They do not unduly burden the judicial system. The 

regulations promote simplification and provide immediate relief from 

the economic burden of the increased inspection fees, and/or 

administrative fees and hourly minimums, to importers and exporters of 

wildlife and wildlife products at designated ports, border or special 

ports, and nondesignated ports that meet specific criteria.

    The Service has determined and certifies pursuant to the Unfunded 

Mandates Act, 2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq., that this rulemaking will not 

impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given year on local or 

State governments or private entities. In 1996, the total value of all 

wildlife shipments which may be eligible for the exemption was 

$700,734. Fees payable to the Service on these shipments would be 

reduced between $22,935 and $39,615 under the rule. Therefore, although 

user fees will be effected we anticipate that they will not be 

substantial. The rule will not create a serious inconsistency or 

otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency 

because it affects only Service actions.

Economic Effects

    The Service conducted an economic analysis of this rule. The 

declared value of all wildlife shipments requiring Service clearance in 

Fiscal Year 1995 was approximately $860,000,000. In 1996, the total 

value of all wildlife shipments which may be eligible for the proposed 

exemption was $700,734. Fees payable to the Service on these shipments 

would be reduced between $22,935 and $39,615 under the rule. The effect 

of this rule is much less than $100 million annually. We anticipate no 

substantial indirect economic effects so the effect of this rule is 

much less than $100 million annually. We do not expect the shipment 

volume to rise to a level that would generate a $100 million annual 

impact. This rulemaking was not subject to review by the Office of 

Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866.

    Accordingly, under the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 

601 et seq.), this rulemaking will not have a significant economic 

effect on a substantial number of small entities, which include 

businesses, organizations, or governmental jurisdictions. This rule 

exempts small shippers from the Fish and Wildlife Service inspection 

fee and so represents an adaptation of the current fee structure to 

provide relief for small shippers, therefore, this rule will have a 

beneficial effect on such entities.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 14

    Animal welfare, Exports, Fish, Imports, Labeling, Reporting and 

recordkeeping requirements, Transportation, Wildlife.

Regulation Promulgation

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, the Service amends Title 

50, Chapter I, subchapter B of the Code of Federal Regulations as set 

forth below:


    1. Revise the authority citation for Part 14 to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 668, 704, 712, 1382, 1538(d)-(f), 1540(f), 

3371-3378, 4223-4244, and 4901-4916; 18 U.S.C. 42; 31 U.S.C. 9701.

    2. Amend Sec. 14.4 by revising the section heading and adding 

alphabetically the definitions ``we'' and ``you'' to read as follows:

Sec. 14.4  What terms do I have to understand?

* * * * *

    We means Fish and Wildlife Service or Service.

    You means licensee, or importer/exporter of record.

    3. Amend Sec. 14.94 by revising the section heading and revising 

paragraph (a) and adding paragraph (e) to read as follows:

Sec. 14.94  What fees apply to me?

    (a) License and inspection fees. We will impose a yearly fee for a 

license pursuant to Sec. 14.93. In addition, you must pay an inspection 

fee for each wildlife shipment imported into or exported from the 

United States at a designated port. If you import into or export from 

the United States wildlife shipments meeting the criteria outlined in 

paragraph (e) of this section, you are exempt from the designated port 

inspection fee, or nondesignated port administrative fee and hourly 

minimums, whichever apply. However, you must pay applicable overtime 

fees and permit fees.

* * * * *

    (e) Your wildlife shipments meeting all of the following criteria 

are exempt from the designated port inspection fee or nondesignated 

port administrative fee and hourly minimums:

    (1) The wildlife you are shipping does not require permits under 

parts 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, or 23 of this subchapter;

    (2) You are importing or exporting wildlife between the United 

States and Canada or Mexico;

    (3) The wildlife you are shipping consists of raw fur, raw, salted, 

or crusted hides or skins, or separate parts thereof, lawfully taken 

from the wild in the United States, Canada, or Mexico;

    (4) You, as the importer or exporter of record, or a member of your 

immediate family (your spouse, parents, siblings, and children), took 

the wildlife from the wild;

    (5) You are licensed in accordance with Sec. 14.91;

    (6) You have not previously bought or sold the wildlife or any part 

thereof being shipped;

    (7) Your shipment does not exceed 100 raw furs, raw, salted, or 

crusted hides or skins, or separate parts thereof;

    (8) Your shipment does not contain any manufactured products or 

live animals.

    (9) You certify that your shipment meets the criteria in this 


Stephen C. Saunders,

Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

[FR Doc. 99-10543 Filed 4-28-99; 8:45 am]