The Tarantula Keepers Coalition has added a new fundraiser to its current efforts. Please visit the Go Fund Me page to add your support. The fundraiser reads:
There are only a few hobbyists that do not know Tom Patterson who is well-known in keeping and breeding tarantulas for over 20 years. Tom has helped thousands of hobbyists become responsible keepers through his art, photography and his importing and breeding projects. Tom has provided fellow hobbyists with rare insights into the incredible spiders that would otherwise go unseen. He is about to embark on another big project and needs your support. Tom is fighting the forfeiture of his tarantulas and possible civil penalties!
Specifically, a Brazilian agency and regulation is the Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente a dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis Ordinance No. 93/1998 (July 7, 1998) published in Portuguese. This Brazilian ordinance prohibits trade in flora and fauna and Tom is an unsuspecting victim entrapped for importing spiders.
If you are not familiar with the legal issue regarding Brazilian species, please read this carefully to get informed. In July of 2018, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) confiscated an import of Typhochlaena seladonia (T. seladonia) from Tom – a licensed and credential importer, who had the proper documentation. The reason for seizure was not faulty documents rather an obscure Brazilian agency ordinance never published nor listed by CITES or the U.S. government. To this day USFWS has made no announcement, regulation or given any guidelines as to whether T. seladonia can be imported and places the burden on you, the importer, to know this Brazilian ordinance, which is in the Portuguese language.
In summary, the USFWS is seizing property, in this case the T. seladonia, from U.S. citizens based upon a foreign ordinance without ever providing notice and due process to the importer. Until your import is seized, you do not know if some foreign country has an agency ordinance that would hold you in violation of a foreign rule. If a specimen is not listed under CITES or the U.S. Endangered Species Act how do you know if you can legally import any specimen because of a foreign regulation? At this time all you know is that T. seladonia is unlawful because Brazil said so back in 1998!
The larger legal battle is how many other unknown foreign agency ordinances will the USFWS enforce against unsuspecting law-abiding U.S. hobbyists? This lack of clarity places all flora and fauna importers at risk. Nothing short of a successful court battle can stop the USFWS from using this same vague enforcement from other foreign countries and placing all hobbyistsin financial jeopardy and causing many a sleepless night. Think? Is there a foreign ordinance you have violated while believing you were complying with CITES and ESA? How would you know without researching every country of the species origin?
Tom has retained a law office and has support from the Tarantula Keeper’s Coalition (TKC) to challenge the USFWS in the U.S. federal court system to clarify and correct this injustice. This legal issue is bigger than achieving justice for Tom and is a legal fight for all who might be subject to a foreign agency regulation passed by a foreign government yet enforced against a U.S. Citizen.
When import laws lack transparency, the demand for illegal poaching or “brown boxing” increases. We believe that responsible, legal trade avenues are vital to combating poaching behavior that threatens the safety and longevity of wild tarantula populations. Your gift today will help Tom challenge the USFWS in court. Friends of Tom ask our allies in the community to join this legal fight for everyone. Thank you.