The Lacey Act of 1900, or simply the Lacey Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 3371–3378) is a conservation law in the United States that prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold.
Introduced into Congress by Rep. John F. Lacey, an Iowa Republican, the Act was signed into law by President William McKinley on May 25, 1900. It protects both plants and wildlife by creating civil and criminal penalties for those who violate the rules and regulations. The law authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to aid in restoring game and birds in parts of the U.S. where they have become extinct or rare. It also regulates introduction of birds and other animals to places where they have never existed before.
The law is still in effect and has been amended several times.
In 1900, illegal commercial hunting threatened many game species in the United States. The original Act was directed at the preservation of game and wild birds, making it a federal crime to poach game in one state with the purpose of selling the bounty in another. The law prohibited the transportation of illegally captured or prohibited animals across state lines, and addressed potential problems caused by the introduction of non-native species of birds and animals into native ecosystems.
Today, the Lacey Act is used primarily to prevent the importation or spread of potentially dangerous non-native species. The Act also makes it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant in violation of the laws of the United States, a state, an Indian tribe, or any foreign law that protects plants.
The Lacey Act was amended on May 22, 2008, when the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 expanded its protection to a broader range of plants and plant products (Section 8204. Prevention of Illegal Logging Practices), largely championed by Senator Ron Wyden (D) Oregon, with some arguing that the motivation for the act was to protect US lumber jobs and the supply-chain reporting provisions encountered opposition from the wood industry including objections to the burden of reporting.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced a ban under the Act effective March 23, 2012, on the importation and interstate transportation of four species of constrictor snakes, due to the snakes' impact upon the Florida Everglades.
Gibson Guitar Corporation was raided twice by federal authorities in 2009 and 2011. Federal prosecutors seized wood from Gibson facilities, alleging that Gibson had purchased smuggled Madagascar ebony and Indian rosewood. Gibson initially denied wrongdoing and insisted that the federal government was bullying them.
In August 2012, Gibson entered into a Criminal Enforcement Agreement with the Department of Justice, admitting to violating the Lacey Act. The terms of the agreement required Gibson to pay a fine of $300,000 in addition to a $50,000 community payment, and to abide by the terms of the Lacey Act in the future.
For violating the Lacey Act, Lumber Liquidators was sentenced to $13.15 million in penalties, five years of probation, and additional government oversight for illegal lumber trafficking. The U.S. Department of Justice said it was the largest financial penalty ever issued under the Lacey Act.