Thank you for your inquiry regarding the sale of exotic insects and butterflies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
Please be advised that the U.S. importer of these insect and butterfly specimens must comply with import/export license, declaration and designated port requirements as described below.
Since the U.S. importer is importing these insect and butterfly specimens for commercial purposes, consistent with our definition of commercial, regulations contained in Title 50, of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 14.91, require that they must obtain an import/export license prior to engaging in business as an importer or exporter of wildlife or wildlife products. The license is valid for one year from the date of issuance and costs $100.00. In addition, as an import/export license holder, the U.S. importer must pay inspection fees for each wildlife shipment imported or exported under the license. For information on inspection fees and how to calculate the inspection fees that the U.S. importer will be required to pay, they can visit our website at: http://www.fws.gov/le/AboutLE/2010InspectionFees.htm
Any wildlife shipment would be considered commercial if the shipment is being imported or exported ” related to the offering for sale or resale, purchase, trade, barter, or the actual or intended transfer in the pursuit of gain or profit, of any item of wildlife and includes the use of any wildlife article as an exhibit for the purpose of soliciting sales.”
The U.S. importer can view our complete definition of commercial at the following website: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=2a9652dc6b37e04aa0e7360c424f07e5&rgn=div8&view=text&node=50:18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124&idno=50
The U.S. importer can find the application for an import/export license on our website at the following address: http://www.fws.gov/forms/3_200_3.pdf
An import/export license only authorizes the importation or exportation of wildlife or wildlife products in general terms. Please be advised that this license is in addition to, and not in place of, any other licenses or permits required for protected species of wildlife.
Generally speaking, exotic insects are not protected however, some species of butterflies are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The species covered by CITES are listed in three appendices according to the degree of protection they need. Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but for which trade must be controlled in order to avoid overutilization that may threaten them with extinction. Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Party countries for assistance in controlling the trade in that species.
We recommend that the U.S. importer should check the CITES website at: http://www.cites.org to determine if any of the butterfly species that they wish to import are protected by CITES. If so, they must obtain a valid CITES export permit issued by the CITES Management Authority in the country of export in order to import those butterfly species into the United States. The U.S. importer can find contact information for CITES Management Authorities on the CITES website at: http://www.cites.org/cms/index.php/lang-en/component/ncd/
In addition, some butterflies are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the ESA, it is unlawful to import, export, take, transport, sell, purchase, or receive in interstate or foreign commerce any species listed as endangered or threatened. You can view the list of species protected under the ESA at: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=1d344c9c654a81857c26aebb5218d963&rgn=div8&view=text&node=50:126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52&idno=50
Whether or not these insect and butterfly specimens are protected by CITES or the ESA, as the U.S. importer prepares to import these insect and butterfly specimens into the United States, they must complete Form 3-177, Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife. The U.S. importer can find this form on our website at the following address: http://www.fws.gov/le/ImpExp/faqs.htm
This form is not difficult to complete, although the U.S. importer must provide the scientific name for each species of insect and butterfly that they wish to import.
The U.S. importer should have this form completed and have it, any original required CITES export permit, a copy of their import/export license, and these insect and butterfly specimens available for inspection as they prepare to import them into the United States.
The U.S. importer must import these insect and butterfly specimens at a designated port. The U.S. importer can find a list of designated ports and contact information for those ports on our website at the following address: http://www.fws.gov/le/ImpExp/Designated_Ports.htm We suggest that they contact in advance the port where they will be importing these insect and butterfly specimens in order to coordinate their clearance into the United States.
Thank you for your interest in our regulations that help protect fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats. Please feel free to respond to this message with any further inquiries that you may have regarding this matter.