I spoke with APHIS -- some info for us hobbyists

Mr. Mordax

Arachnoking
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So, a long story short, some pictures I posted months ago got misinterpreted by some APHIS inspectors who since paid me a little visit.

Like the thread someone posted a while ago, they were very polite and all, and they had some useful information for hobbyists. First, it is possible, though very unlikely, for an individual to acquire the permit necessary for keeping phasmids. The reason it would be difficult is because most individuals don't have the necessary facilities:

-- Airtight seals around all doors / windows
-- No holes in ceilings / walls / etc (old nail-holes, for example)
-- Screens over all vents leading into room
-- Double-bagging, sterilizing, and THEN conventional disposal of all waste
-- Secured cages for specimens (locking cages preferred)
-- Inspection of all personnel leaving room to ensure no accidental stowaways
-- Etc.

To do things legally, specimens could be traded with an existing, approved facility once permits had been approved.

They also told me that the reason exotic mantids were recently added to the no-no list is because someone's specimens escaped and started displacing the native species. The individual in question pulled up a list from the APHIS website that showed mantids as being ok. The inspectors told me the list turned out to be several years old, so they at least removed the outdated information from the website.

They told me the inspection job is difficult because they don't have a handy cheat-sheet of what's ok and what isn't. The best bet is to email them personally with a latin name, and they would contact the permit people to see if it was OK or not (ain't beaurocracy fun? :?)

The good news is, they said that no arachnids are permit-required, and they didn't say anything about millipedes.
 

Cheshire

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What about roaches?

Who, exactly do we contact?

You're making much better headway than I am...my APHIS project is on the backburner until finals are over. :(

Did they give you any documentation about what species of mantis escaped? I've not heard anything about that (and if you've seen the news I post in TWH, you know I have my hands in just about everything).
 

Mr. Mordax

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The two inspectors gave me their personal business cards and said I could email them with species inquiries, but I don't think I should make their identities public on here. They didn't give me any documentation -- they just gave the incidence without details as an example.

And I'm only making headway 'cause I post before I think :8o.
 

Louise E. Rothstein

Arachnobaron
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I spoke with APHIS...some info for hobbyists...

Now they've made ALL kinds of phasmids illegal.
Aren't "mystery sticks" some kind of phasmid?
What'll happen to the convention goers who bought
"a mystery stick" without having heard?

WHAT do people do...
-call the zoo?

And,if they do:

What happens?
 

EAD063

Arachnoprince
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So Mike, did they just show up at your house to check it out? Hope they didn't have to take anything of yours. I'm sure you'd be able to get the permit soon, your soon to graduate I belive and once you get a house you can make a room that fits those requirements. Some crafty use of weather striping and some new sheetrock and your golden. ;) Thanks for a great update.
 

Mr. Mordax

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Now they've made ALL kinds of phasmids illegal.
Aren't "mystery sticks" some kind of phasmid?
What'll happen to the convention goers who bought
"a mystery stick" without having heard?

WHAT do people do...
-call the zoo?

And,if they do:

What happens?
Yes, the "mistery sticks" are phasmids. If convention-goers buy these without realizing they're illegal, nothing happens unless APHIS finds out about it. I was only found out because I posted pictures and associated myself with a school club without being clear as to the fact that the insects were at the club's facilities and not my home.

If APHIS finds out, and you're just an innocent convention-goer, I believe (based on someone's "USDA took my sticks" thread) they would simply be confiscated. If you were selling / distributing, then there's a greater likelihood of fines.

So Mike, did they just show up at your house to check it out? Hope they didn't have to take anything of yours. I'm sure you'd be able to get the permit soon, your soon to graduate I belive and once you get a house you can make a room that fits those requirements. Some crafty use of weather striping and some new sheetrock and your golden. ;) Thanks for a great update.
No, I didn't have any phasmids at home. They just wanted to meet with me when they were inspecting the school club's facilities and make sure I understood the rules and wasn't keeping anything I'm not supposed to.

As for actually applying for a permit when I graduate and get my own home . . . not a bad idea! I hadn't thought of that kind of opportunity (not looking far enough ahead), so I may very well have to contact those nice inspector gentlemen again in a couple years. :D
 

Cheshire

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Well, no...keep in contact with them. If we can establish a dialouge between APHIS and hobbiests, this could open a lot of doors.

A this could be just the thing I'm pushing for, a way for the USDA to talk to hobbiests.

We really could use a known USDA inspector here on the boards. The account is anonymous.
 

Mr. Mordax

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You make an excellent point Cheshire . . . I may have to swing one an email.
 

EAD063

Arachnoprince
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As for actually applying for a permit when I graduate and get my own home . . . not a bad idea! I hadn't thought of that kind of opportunity (not looking far enough ahead), so I may very well have to contact those nice inspector gentlemen again in a couple years. :D
I say that in confidence old pal. :) Personally I can't wait until after school. Only one more year! Finally I can have an invert room! First time buyers programs are hot, you'll be in a house sooner than you think, finally the government will help you out after all those tax paying years.
 

Louise E. Rothstein

Arachnobaron
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I spoke with APHIS

When those USDA agents confiscate insects...what do they DO to the insects...after they have taken them?
Does anyone (else) even ask?

We should.
Most phasmids are perfectly harmless to human beings.
And they do make great exhibits.
Could you find zoos that take them?
 

Cheshire

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I'm going to be working on just that this fall with an organization that has permits, but have no details to give out just yet.

I'd imagine there are some keepers that have frowned upon exotics that they want to get rid of quietly and safely for whatever reason.
 

Mr. Mordax

Arachnoking
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When those USDA agents confiscate insects...what do they DO to the insects...after they have taken them?
As far as I know, they are "destroyed" -- killed by some standard means (freezing, alcohol, etc . . . I don't think they just squish them all) and then disposed of. Even if it were in their SOPs, I don't think many institutions would take them in, considering most are parthenogenetic and probably species most institutions already have.
 
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