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House bill could ban gerbils, parakeets

Gerbil

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: This morning, a House subcommittee is taking up a bill that its opponents say would turn a gerbil into contraband. Here's Marketplace's Dan Grech.


Dan Grech: Two-hundred million foreign animals are brought into the U.S. each year, say animal welfare advocates, and with little oversight. The House bill would change all that. It would create a list of approved species. Animals not on the list couldn't enter the country.

Marshall Meyers: Basically this is a criminal statute which will say these animals are guilty until proven innocent.

That's Marshall Meyers, head of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. He says the bill could outlaw familiar pets, such as gerbils, hamsters, parakeets, plus many exotic reptiles and fish. Defenders say the regulation is at aimed non-native, disease-carrying, invasive wildlife -- not at common pets.

Peter Jenkins is with the Defenders of Wildlife. He says the $40 billion a year pet industry is using scare tactics to kill the bill.

Peter Jenkins: They have a financial interest in having an unregulated import trade in all sorts of bizarre snakes and reptiles and what have you.

Today's hearing is getting a lot of attention. One in three Americans own exotic pets.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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