The Captive Wildlife Safety Act Law and Legal Definition

The Captive Wildlife Safety Act or CWSA was signed into law by President George Bush and is effective September 17, 2007. It addresses concerns about public safety amid growing private ownership of big cats in the United States. The Act prohibits the interstate and foreign trade in exotic cats. The provisions of the act, makes it illegal to move certain types of live big cats across State lines or U.S. borders unless exempted. The act provides exemptions for certain individuals and entities like circuses, zoos, wildlife rehabilitators and some other licensed facilities. Big cats covered by the act include lions, tigers, leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, and cougars; all subspecies of these species; and hybrid combinations of these species. This law amends the Lacey Act to make it illegal to import, export, buy, sell, transport, receive or acquire certain live big cats across State lines or the U.S. border. This legislation was introduced with the sole purpose of making these big cats unavailable to the pet trade, although it is not an outright ban on ownership.