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Policy #5: Regulation of Wild/Exotic Animal Auctions Under the Animal Welfare Act
Issue Date: March 25, 2011
AWA Section 2142
9 CFR, Part 2, Section 2.1, 2.6, 2.75, 2.76 and 2.100
9 CFR, Part 3, Subpart F
Replaces memorandum dated February 1, 1991, and policy dated April 14, 1997.
Provides needed guidance regarding these activities.
All regulatory requirements pertaining to exotic animal auctions must be met by the operator of the auction as well as the consignor (if the consignor is licensed or required to be licensed). The following provides clarification for some of those requirements.
Licensing Requirements at Wild/Exotic Animal Auctions
Animal Welfare regulations require that persons selling exotic or wild animals for covered purposes be licensed. Therefore, operators of wild/exotic animal auctions must hold a current USDA Class B license. Some but not all persons consigning animals to these auctions need to be licensed. While some exotic or wild animals consigned at auctions are clearly sold only for covered purposes, others are often sold for non-covered purposes such as for food or fiber, or for hunting on game ranches. The three categories below are intended to help determine whether consignors need a USDA license.
*Animals used for fur, food or hunting are exempt.
|Never need a license||May need a license||Always need a license|
Farm-type animals used for agricultural purposes
Alpacas and llamas,
Farm-type animals not used for agricultural purposes,
*Foxes and mustelids,
Wild or exotic hoofstock,
Common pet-type animals,
Megaherbivores (elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes)
Wallabies and kangaroos,
The above listings are intended as guidance only. Persons selling animals listed in the middle column, or animals not listed may wish to contact the appropriate Animal Care regional office for guidance.
Animals are often maintained at an auction ground in transport enclosures. These animals are considered to be "in transit" and may remain in these enclosures while at the auction as long as all requirements for transport enclosures are met or exceeded. Only the enclosure requirements from the Transportation Standards for the appropriate species will be used to determine compliance. However, if an animal shows obvious physical distress, including signs of behavioral stress, physical harm or unnecessary discomfort while held for long periods in a transport enclosure, the auction owner (and the consignor, if licensed) will be cited for a handling violation. Incompatible animals should not to be held in the same enclosure or close to other animals that may cause them stress.
Handling of Animals
Auction employees must be properly trained and experienced to handle animals during a sale. If the auction does not have any personnel qualified to handle certain animals, those animals should only be handled by the consignor, assuming that person is qualified. Being transferred from a transport enclosure to another larger enclosure can be stressful for many animals and must be accomplished by persons trained in making such transfers. There can be disastrous results if animals are moved by untrained and/or inexperienced persons. If an individual enters the auction facility with an animal (e. g. a primate) that is not consigned, and becomes involved in an incident with that animal, the auction (and the individual, if licensed) may be cited for a handling violation.
Responsibility for care of the animals rests with the consignor (if the consignor is licensed or required to be licensed) as well as the operator of the auction. All regulatory requirements for the animals’ care, including the provision of veterinary care when necessary, must be met. The auction’s responsibility does not extend to animals kept in transport vehicles in auction parking lots, etc. Animals are then the sole responsibility of the persons transporting them. Every covered animal that the auction consigns will be regulated while it is within the auction facility.
Public Exhibition of Animals
Animals are often kept on display for public viewing during an auction. In fact, many members of the public go to auctions simply to see the animals with no intention of bidding on them. Therefore, operators of auctions should utilize appropriate barriers and/or distance so as to ensure the safety of the animals and public. A sufficient number of readily identifiable attendants should be present at all periods of public contact with the animals.