Israel AG may toughen rules on sale of wild animals
In letter published last week, Weinstein says it is possible to look into revisions of existing rules that would forbid import to Israel of wild animals for experimental purposes.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein consented to Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan's request on Sunday to examine the possibility of toughening the guidelinesthat govern commerce in wild animals.
In a letter published last week, Weinstein wrote that existing regulation, allowing wild animals to be imported to Israel for the express purpose of later being exported for experimental purposes, could be revisited. The same applies to Israeli regulations governing the export of wild animals born in captivity.
It is also possible, Weinstein wrote, to revisit policy requiring animal traders to operate only as breeding farms, in order to restrict the import of animals hunted down in the wild as much as possible.
At the same time, Weinstein said, a general ban on the commercial activity of animal traders is not warranted.
Erdan had requested Weinstein's ruling four months ago following an opinion written by Dalit Dror, his office's legal counsel. She wrote that there are legal obstacles to Erdan's proposal to revoke existing permits and ban issuance of new permits for the sale of wild animals.
The minister also sought to limit the import of wild animals to be used in experiments inside Israel, other than for experiments for development of life-saving drugs or those that would relieve the suffering of very ill patients.
It bears mention that it is legally impossible to impose a blanket ban on importing wild animals for experimentation or to constrain the experiments that may be conducted.
A blanket ban on the use of Israel as a “transit station” for animals destined for other countries – if accepted – would “send a moral message” that Israel is not prepared to take part in the development of a large-scale industry for the import and export of animals.
The decision principally affects the operations of the Mazor farm, Israel's only monkey-breeding farm. The farm imports large numbers of long-tailed macaque monkeys from Mauritius and subsequently exports their offspring to laboratories around the world. In 2011, the animal rights NGO Let Animals Live successfully petitioned the High Court of Justice to block Mazor's attempt to export animals born in the wild and no longer useful for breeding to laboratories abroad.
Animal rights activists anticipate that this decision will make it difficult for the farm to operate. A few weeks ago the farm's management filed suit in the Petah Tikva District Court, seeking NIS 2.5 million from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which originally authorized, and subsequently cancelled, the shipment.
Erdan praised Weinstein's decision, calling it “a step forward in the protection of animals and wild animals.”