It’s a Zoo: Hawaii Lawmakers Propose Dozens of Animal Bills

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If Hawaii lawmakers get their way this session, they will protect aquarium fish from harvest, ban feral cat trapping, import nonvenomous snakes for study, order the castration of wild donkeys, designate the Hawaiian Hoary Bat as the official state land mammal, keep dogs out of puppy mills, put Zoo elephants in a space to roam, ban shark tours and give tax credits for, well, worms.

These are just a few of the more than 60 proposals introduced by Hawaii legislators relating to Hawaii’s furry, fishy and sometimes slimy, friends.


“It is just one big cat house,” says Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai-Diamond Head, in jest, at a recent press conference. Slom, a columnist for Hawaii Reporter, introduced the Hoary Bat resolution and created a promotional web site, which have received considerable attention locally and nationally.

The biggest public response so far to the proposed legislation, which includes at least two cat bills, five dog bills, seven fish bills, one shark bill, one donkey bill, five general bills, one worm bill, two bird bills, two insect bills, one bat bill, and one elephant bill, has been to the cat and fish proposals.

More than 1,000 letters were sent to Senators considering SB 13, which makes it a misdemeanor to trap feral cats. Other bills to prevent “harvesting” of reef fish for aquariums also attracted a large crowd.

But the animal news, which is fast and furious at the capitol, isn’t nearly wrapped up.

Today, The Humane Society of the United States, along with the Hawaiian, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island Humane Societies, gave more sobering news about Hawaii’s animal laws after presenting awards to State Sen. Clayton Hee, D- Kahuku-Kane’ohe, and Rep. Angus McKelvey, D–Lahaina-North Kihei for animal and ocean protection.

The organizations asked lawmakers to make stronger laws related to dog fighting, puppy mills, dog chaining and wildlife and reef protection.

McKelvey said, “As lawmakers we have a responsibility to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Hawaii is ranked poor – or forty-fifth worst – in terms of animal protection laws, the Humane Society says: “Hawaii has some of the weakest animal fighting laws in the country, with only misdemeanor penalties for cockfighting and no penalties at all for possessing a bird for fighting or attending a cockfight. Additionally, Hawaii is one of only two states where attending a dogfight is legal. Hawaii also has very weak laws protecting wildlife from abuse and regulating puppy mills.”

To learn more about pending animal protection bills and their status, please visit The HSUS’ state legislation page for Hawaii.

Here is a list of several of the animal related measures:

  • SB13 Creates a misdemeanor to trap feral cats using a trap or to sell traps to catch cats. (Cats)
  • SB31 Marine Life Conservation Districts; Shoreline Protection (Fish)
  • SB151 Aquarium Fish; Harvesting Prohibited  (Fish)
  • SB 193 Prohibits the use of state boating facilities and state parks for shark tours. Prohibits the use or transportation of diving cages used for placing humans in close proximity with sharks. Authorizes the issuance of permits for educational, scientific, or propagation purposes  (Sharks)
  • SB266 Creates an animal abuser registry, requiring the registering of adults convicted of a felony violation relating to animal cruelty in the first degree. (General)
  • SB578 Establishes fishing bag limits and size restrictions for uhu and goatfish taken from Maui. Also establishes specific exemptions.  (Fish)
  • SB580 Establishes prohibitions, penalties, and fines for knowingly selling aquatic life for aquarium purposes taken from waters within the jurisdiction of the State. Requires an aquarium permit to take marine or freshwater nongame fish and other aquatic life for aquarium purposes. Imposes new standards for aquarium permit issuance determinations.  (Fish)
  • SB 634 Establishes an income tax credit for taxpayers who purchase and install a vermicomposting system.  (Worms)
  • SB 700  Prohibits pet retailers from selling unsterilized cats.  (Cats)
  • SB711  Prohibits the sale of genetically engineered fish or genetically engineered fish products unless for consumption in the State of Hawaii and appropriately labeled as genetically engineered fish or genetically engineered fish products.  (Fish)
  • SB 724  Prohibits sale of raw fish that is treated with carbon monoxide or other gas to preserve color or texture of the fish to give the appearance of freshness. Establishes administrative penalty.  (Fish)
  • SB 727  Prohibits force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size. Prohibits the sale or distribution of products from force fed birds. Permits restaurants to sell such products by 7/1/12 if possessed by 7/01/11.  (Birds)
  • SB733  Prohibits the use of body crushing traps and non-padded or non‑laminated foot or leg-hold traps and provides exemptions, regulates the use of snares and padded or laminated foot or leg‑hold traps and provides exemptions, and establishes penalties for violations.  (General)
  • SB 738 Requires beekeepers to register with the department of agriculture, with the information to be kept confidential; requires report to the 2013 legislature.  (Insects)
  • Sb878 Hoary Bat Bill
  • Sb892 Adds a definition of “service dog” in provisions relating to dog licensing, to conform with new ADA rules; expands the definition of “service animal” to include “comfort animals”, to conform with FHA rules regarding non-discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.  (Dogs)
  • SB1009 Increases the number of live, nonvenomous male snakes that a government agency may import into the State from 2 to 6. Allows a government agency to import up to 10 male specimens of the genus Pteropus flying fox.  (Snakes)
  • SB1068  Provides that killing, or attempting to kill, the animal of another person without that persons consent constitutes animal cruelty in the first degree. Adds exemptions for animal cruelty in the first degree.   (General)
  • SB1069  Establishes the offense of cruelty to animals by fighting dogs in the second degree. Increases penalty for cruelty to animals by fighting dogs in the first degree. Clarifies dog fighting and animal cruelty laws.  (Dogs)
  • SB1126 Requires zoos in the State to house elephants in an area that is sufficient to live and roam. Takes effect 1/1/2014.  (elephants)
  • SB1310 Removes the sunset date on the use of new safe harbor agreements, habitat conservation plans, and incidental take licenses as recovery options for conserving and protecting the State’s threatened and endangered species.  (General)
  • SB1367  Repeals definition of “game mammal” and removes restrictions on the hunting of these animals  (General)
  • SB1387  Enhances the regulation of aquarium aquatic life collection in the State by requiring DLNR to develop a list of aquatic species that may be collected or sold for aquarium purposes. Effective 6/1/11.  (Fish)
  • SB1424  Creates an offense of confinement of a dog by tethering under prescribed circumstances with certain exceptions and establishes mandatory fines. Effective 1/1/12.  (Dogs)
  • SB 1474 Appropriates funds in FY 2011-2012 and FY 2012-2013 to mitigate the effects of the coffee berry borer in the Kona region on the island of Hawaii. Requires DOA to submit a progress report to the legislature. ($)  (Insects)
  • SB1522  Enacts the large scale dog breeder regulation Act to require a license and to regulate large-scale dog breeding operations  (Dogs)
  • SB1533  Clarifies that peacocks are not included as pests for purposes of the law on cruelty to animals in the second degree.  (Birds)
  • SB1542  Establishes an exemption to the “two-bite” rule for the removal or destruction of a dog by allowing a court to order the removal or destruction of a dog which has only bitten a human being once when the injury caused by that one bite is so severe that it results in serious bodily injury to the human being regardless of whether the bite was unprovoked.  (Dogs)





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