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legal questions

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Ok, so as i understand it, most if not all bugs that feed on plants at any stage of there life is illegal or requires a permit from the USDA to ship or receive.

#1 I see many cockroaches, isopods, and non-predatory beetles for sale from large and small co. how is this legal? (note: I am not pointing fingers my interest is keeping my sh*t legal.)

#2 I know that many roach sp. are not considered pests. Who declares them not pests?

#3 Do said rules not apply to isopods since they are crustations?

#4 I hear the herp/invert classifides refered to as a "black market" from the media, basicly means people selling are not paying taxes. im curious if anyone pays taxes on there sales. (note: do not answer this if you do not pay your sales taxes. That would be incriminating and that is not my goal.)

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#1 um really didn't know that and i think most of the Roaches we keep don't eat live vegetation and are more of scavangers going after older food or anything that falls to the ground in the wild.

#2 usually it's the state that dictates it, i think the only place that has banned a roach species is Florida, and even then i think thay only banded B. Dubia. also most if the species we keep wouldn't survive the winter in the majority of the US.

#3 alot of them are native species or if thay are a tropical species thay wouldn't survive in the wild. also like roaches thay don't eat live vegetation and actually eat the same things as roaches.

#4 the vast majority of use are individuals who just sell off what we have on the side, sort of like how you don't pay sales tax if you have a garage sale or you sell something on ebay or the like. breeders who have a business do pay taxes, but because most of them sell through the internet now and don't have an open store front thay don't have to pay sales tax (depending on the state).

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Here's a quote of mine from a rant to a fellow hobbyist:

The "legality" of roaches is incredibly complex. For example.

I once talked to a museum in California about purchasing some of their spare species. They told me that it's illegal to move exotic roaches between states, but pest species can be moved wherever, however. I also talked to some entomology professors at Purdue university about shipping roaches; According to them, exotic species can be moved as much as you want, and the pests are heavily regulated. Both are institutions of authority on insects, and both gave different answers.

One day a person here e-mailed the USDA on the issue, asking for permits to ship exotics. He received a letter back saying that they denied his permit requests for several species, 2 of which are natives of the US. G. portentosa, the common hisser, however was not on the denied list, meaning you don't need a permit to ship those in the first place! (Except to Florida, where you can send ANY other species of roach except hissers, and need a permit to send even males there!) I've talked with several USDA officials as well; roaches aren't really even on their list of "bad" species; Roaches are secondary plant pests, and the only harm they do to ecosystems is... Eat dead leaves. Phasmids, beetles, slugs, and snails are high on their list, though, and mantids may only pop up as a problem when somebody's bringing them up extensively. Supposedly one of the higher-ups in the USDA addressed the roach issue several years ago and was preparing a list of 30 or so species that could be kept, shipped, etc, but there was no reason to rush it so it never got done. (Why rush when things are already okay? :P)

Coincidentally, about 80% of the species in the hobby were legally imported by Dr. Roth and Harvard university, and were distributed from there to private individuals.

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Most herp shows that carry inverts seem to stipulate "no native state species" for their sales which is interesting because native species are already here, the name would imply anyway...yet everything else seems fine.

A few years ago in northern PA a package was found at the post office that contained beetles. They were going to a collectors house and he got busted/fined for it. The beetles were considered illegal because of their pest spicies status here in the state. However I've never seen anything about roaches on any list other than the German and American.

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Basically all of your questions are questions that have no real answers. The laws are for the most part very ambiguous and discressionary so that regional officers can enforce them or not as they choose in general or on a case-by-case basis. This is because pests are only "pests" in some areas and not others, so its not possible to write a federal law that is different for every county in every state. The whole bug hobby exists in a grey area of laws where its not illegal, but is in some places, and where all of our roaches are really "feeder" roaches for lizards, amphibians, and other invertebrates, but these feeders are sometimes kept just for keeping and not feeding off to anything. There is no concrete law that blakets the hobby too as the officers have bigger problems with thousands of illegal importations to work on and not enough employees to work on it instead of worrying about joe blow shipping roaches from Michigan to California, or any other A to B.

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I can tell you that I do, in fact, pay taxes on all online sales. Of course, it's helpful to rack up (and write off) a bunch of expenses through the year (like maintaining this forum, for one). I know that many people do not pay. Anybody shipping stuff out regularly is running a business. Onsey-twosy stuff isn't that big of a deal. Fortunately, there is no "sales" tax here in Oregon!

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