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RE: Federal 4-Inch Turtle Law Clarified Here

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Posted by: MassLawGeek at Sun Feb 5 12:10:36 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by MassLawGeek ]  

>>Please provide the legal definition under the federal law of what constitutes "bona fide" exhibition at the time the law was enacted as precedence oddly enough is important here....

The definition of "bona fide" from Merriam Webster is as follows: "made in good faith, without fraud or deceit."

>>Many years ago, I ran the herp department of what was at that time one of the largest pet stores in the US.. We sold literally hundreds of baby turtles a year well after the ban with the above noted warning with the following additional wording
>>"I understand that the sale for the use of pets is prohibited and that I am purchasing the turtle for bona fide exhibition or scientific purposes". The name and the information from a valid ID was added to the bottom of the slip of which the purchaser kept one and the store kept one.. Someone complained and the FDA came and conducted an investigation. There are actually pictures of me complying with the requests of the investigating personnel by holding a random selection of baby turtles up to a ruler while they photographed both of us.. They photographed some sales of the turtles, filed a warrent for the records of the number of baby turtles ordered by the store, the records of the disposition of the turtles and the copies of the signed slips.... No further action was taken by the goverment or state authorities..

I cannot make an educated guess on whether or not a law enforcement agency decides to prosecute an individual case or not. I can say that your store was in violation of the law. The signed disclaimer, ID validation or not, means nothing if the person cannot prove when challenged, that the animal is to be used for that purpose. My guess would be that most, if not all of those customers were buying "pet" turtles using your disclaimer and that your store, as a business "should" have been in federal trouble.

>>As a counterpoint.. oddly enough.. why wouldn't a hobbyist go to a reptile show to purchase animals for thier hobby from other hobbyists that breed them? You may have a point on those who are purchasing turtles under 4 inches and then reselling them but wouldn't it be incumbent on the enforcement agency to 1) prove that you did not in fact breed said turtles and 2) that the person who purchased them was not a hobbyist..... Otherwise there would have been an illegal search and seizure?

This is a gray area. A "hobbyist" may indeed purchase a table at a reptile expo and decide to sell turtles under four inches.
However, the reptile expo that the hobbyist is selling his/her baby turtles at and the expo where he purchased his/her table is in fact, a business. Thus, the hobbyist is in association with a business. You see the connection.

My point with my original post was to educate, not make determinations on what various law enforcement agencies may or may not choose to do. In my opinion, it's better to be safe than sorry. That reptile expo table could turn out to be the most expensive table ever purchased in the history of expo's for that hobbyist. Thanks for all this, Ed.


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