I don't know how this hits the aquarium industry, but I'm suspicious the time will come when aquariums are outlawed. I've seen a disturbing number of articles in scientific literature that are suggesting the prevention of new introductions preculdes any rights anyone has to keep the pets they'd like to legally.
I personally find this extremely irritating, as I've found ZERO evidence that exotic species are effective at invading even the most partially intact ecosystems (the mileage varies based on zoogeographic, geologic and climatic histories). I'm prepared to fight this tooth and nail as a scientist, hobbyist and individual... But in the meantime, we need to know what the laws are.
I've provided answers to your questions below. Unfortunately, I suspect that the new rules will be a significant problem for native fish hobbyists, but I suspect that some kind of provisions will be made for continued scientific and educational use of live fishes. If you have additional questions, here's a link to a list of contacts in our Madison bureau.
"Can folks who are keeping native fishes apply for a bait dealer license and legally collect and keep native species in aquaria?"
Licensed bait dealers may collect and sell wild-caught minnows under a Bait Harvest Permit, however, ALL fish harvested under a bait harvest permit must receive a Fish Health Certificate from a qualified fish health inspector, and any APHIS-listed "susceptible" species must also be tested for VHS. The current VHS test involves a 30-day viral culture, I believe, and I suspect most hobbyists will not want to deal with that process and the associated costs. Also, the list of species that a bait harvester may take is somewhat limited, and would not allow the take of any species defined as a gamefish or rough fish (or threatened/endangered species, of course).
"If not, does Wisconsin provide for a Science and Education permit that can be applied for, that would involve collection and keeping of native fishes for non-academic or non-agency folks?"
Our department does issue Scientific Collector's Permits for research purposes, but I have not yet seen any guidance on how these will be handled now. I suspect that any live take of fish under these permits will be closely scrutinized for legitimate research purposes.
"My final question regards those aniamls that were legally captured and held prior to the emergency measure. In reading your message, I got the impression that any animal in aquaria was now illegal... I understand that the animals don't come with a bar code that had a "sold to" date on them But I don't know that it's a prosecuteable offense for someone to maintain the animals they'd acquired legally prior to the emergency measure."
My understanding is that the new rules that will be enforced involve the transport of live fish away from a waterbody. It should not be a problem to possess fish that were legally taken prior to the new rules. The new rules will obviously result in enforcement problems. Basically, a warden would be able to pinch you if he sees you coming off the water with a bucket of live minnows, but once you are somewhere else, there is no way to tell if any minnows you possess have already been taken out on a waterbody, or if you just purchased them from a bait dealer (or if you possessed them before the new rules took effect).
And the original post for what it's worth:
Website supplied information. This could be the start of a very disturbing trend.
I thought your Wisconsin members should be aware of the ramifications of our new statewide rules aimed at preventing the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). It is now illegal to keep any wild-caught fish in an aquarium. Fish you catch or even leftover bait minnows cannot be transported away from a lake or stream alive. Here is the wording from some guidance I just received:
Q: I like to maintain native fish in my home aquarium; can I catch fish and bring them home for this purpose?
A - No, any live fish taken from a wild source would be illegal. If you would like fish for your home aquarium, you should purchase the fish from a fish hatchery, bait shop or licensed bait harvester.
I have long been a fan of keeping native fishes myself. This is very unfortunate for the hobby, but our department has decided to err on the side of caution. Additional information on VHS can be found on the Wisconsin DNR website through this link: