Good Riddance to the Death of HR 511

Last year may have been a year filled with great experiences and adventures, but something we are happy to leave behind in 2012 is HR 511! Thanks to the reptile community and animal lovers alike for banning together to protect your freedoms, legislation to ban interstate transport of the Indian & Reticulated Pythons, Green & Beni Anacondas and Boas has been defeated.

 

Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) the northern (Python sebae) and southern African rock python, (Python natalensis) and the yellow anaconda (Eunectes notaeus) who as of March 23, 2012 are included in the Lacey Act. This addition does not federally ban ownership, but does place restrictions on interstate transport for any reason including pet owners moving from state to state.

 

 

For more information on the HR 511's time in Congress and Lacey Act requirements, check out our previous blog posts below.

RED ALERT: STOP HR511 Python BAN TODAY!

 

Python Ban: The Adaptability Argument

Python Ban: The Special Interest Argument

Python Ban: The Discussion

Python Ban: The Economic Argument

Python Ban: The "Good Science" Argument

Python Ban: The Precedent Argument

Python Ban: The Pet Argument

Python Ban: The Answers to Living Under the Lacey Act

 

HR511 Weekly Update December 3 : Representative John Fleming, M.D.

HR511 Weekly Update December 10 : Brady Barr Resident Herpetologist at National Geographic Society

HR511 Weekly Update December 18 : Colette Sutherland TSK, Inc.

 

Thank you to those who called their representatives to ensure the truth about HR511 was heard and thank you to those representatives for listening to the facts and ignoring the hype. Here at Prehistoric Pets we wish this unbased attack was never opened but we are SO EXCITED to be able to close the discussion and looming threats with be it not without losses, a victory for reptiles.

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HR511 Weekly Update December 3 : Representative John Fleming, M.D.

Just as we thought talks on further banning reptile ownership were complete HR511 has been picked up to add the final species to the Lacey Act banning a total of 9 snake species from interstate transport. Because these proceedings can often be complex and confusing we will be dedicating one blog post a week to the research, arguments, and ways you can get involved in HR511 and the protection of your freedoms.

We will start this series with the opening statement by the Honorable John Fleming, Chairman, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs at the Subcommittee Hearing on HR511: To Prohibit the Importation of Various Species of Constrictor Snakes on November 29,2012.

 

 

Good morning, today, we will hear testimony on H. R. 511, a bill introduced by the distinguished gentleman from Florida, Congressman Tom Rooney to list nine species of constrictor snakes under the Lacey Act.

 

Let me say at the outset that I compliment my colleagues from the Florida delegation for their tireless commitment to restoring the Florida Everglades. But I have concerns that H. R. 511 will end up destroying hundreds of small businesses without providing any real benefit to the Everglades.

 

By way of background, there are several key dates in this discussion. The first was on June 23, 2006, when the South Florida Water Management District petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to list Burmese pythons on the Lacey Act. The next important date was on January 20, 2010, when the Secretary of the Interior proposed to administratively list nine species of constrictor snakes.

 

Before announcing a decision, however, the State of Florida implemented a law as of July 1, 2010, prohibiting the importation and personal possession of seven species of snakes including Burmese pythons.

 

Finally, after an exhaustive analysis by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U. S. Small Business Administration of more than 56,000 comments, the Secretary of the Interior announced on January 17th of this year that four of the nine species – including the two species that have established populations in the Everglades – would be treated as ‘injurious wildlife.” It is now a violation of federal law to import and to move these four species in interstate commerce. Upon making the decision, Secretary Salazar noted that it was intended to “strike a balance” between economic and environmental concerns.

 

We are now being asked in H. R. 511 to go far beyond the recommendations of the South Florida Water Management District, the State of Florida and the Fish and Wildlife Service by listing all nine species of constrictor snakes.

 

It is important to remember that millions of Americans own and have legally acquired constrictor snakes. They weren’t smuggled into this country. While some of these Americans are simply content to have a Boa constrictor as a pet, many others have created small businesses which breed them, feed them, provide equipment for them, sell them at pet stores, promote them at trade shows, provide veterinary care for them and other activities which contribute millions to our economy.

 

According to an economic analysis undertaken by the Georgetown Economic Services, the Boa constrictor, which was not listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, “Accounts for 70 percent of all imports and 70 to 80 percent of all revenues generated by these nine species.” The Service estimated that the annual decrease in economic output of these snakes ranged from $42 million to $86.2 million. In addition, the House Committee on Oversight held a hearing on the proposed listing of the nine species and concluded in their report that “Over the first ten years, combined loss could be between $505 million and $1.2 billion”.

 

A witness at that hearing, Mr. David Barker of Texas, an internationally recognized authority on constrictor snakes stated that “This misguided regulations will destroy an entire industry, comprised almost exclusively of small and micro businesses. In short, if this rule goes into effect, it will destroy my life’s work and investments for no rational reason”.

 

During the course of this hearing, I hope to learn why the current Florida state law and recent Interior Department ruling seem, in some people’s minds, insufficient in addressing the Everglades problem. More specifically, does H. R. 511 protect current breeders, pet store owners and small businesses who trade these species in Louisiana, Michigan, New York and Washington State.

 

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Python Ban: The Pet Argument

Prehistoric Pets has long worked with a wide variety of species of large constrictors, over a span of many years. During that time, we have come to an intimate understanding of the animals we have worked with, their temperature and environmental needs, personalities, reproductive and feeding capabilities. With this background and some additional research it becomes clear the animals recently added to the Lacey act are neither capable of living outside of their current establishment in the Everglades or pose a reasonable threat to humans.

We’ve compiled just some of the facts we’ve found within the documentation supposedly backing this faulty legislation. We urge you to read these excerpts, examine the sources and develop your own opinion on the subject, but please please do not rely on sensationalized images and articles with an underlying agenda. Today we will cover the pet argument that is so often misconstrued and sensationalized by feeding off of fear instead of the thousands of happy reptile owning families.

photo credit Mali Workman

 

PET OWNERSHIP ARGUMENT

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Claim: "The HSUS opposes ownership of all reptiles." [Status: True]

For those reasons, HSUS [Humane Society of the United States] opposes private ownership of endangered species, undomesticated animals, and all reptiles.

http://humanewatch.info/blog/myths/myth-exotic/

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Along the same lines, HSUS discourages keeping parrots, macaws, cockatoos, and toucans because they are not longstanding domesticated species. They do not oppose ownership of all birds.

[2 Paragraphs Below]

As stated before, HSUS supports ownership of hamsters, ferrets, cockatoos, guinea pigs, gerbils, lovebirds -- all of which HSUS opponents have falsely claimed HSUS is trying to ban.

http://humanewatch.info/blog/myths/myth-exotic/

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Claim: "The HSUS wants to outlaw ownership of all non-native species." Status: False

 http://humanewatch.info/blog/myths/myth-exotic/

H.R.669 - Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act To prevent the introduction and establishment of nonnative wildlife species that negatively impact the economy, environment, or other animal species' or human health, and for other purposes.

Organizations Supporting H.R.669 • National Wildlife Federation • Nature Conservancy • great lakes united • natural areas association • Union of Concerned Scientists • Humane Society of the United States

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h669/show

Our organizations, representing millions of constituents across the country, come together in support of H.R. 669, the Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act. We applaud Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo for her leadership in introducing this bill, and express our appreciation to the 25 current cosponsors.

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/wildlife/exotics/hr_669_statement_042309.pdf ====================================================================================

Solving Problems with Snakes

Snakes cause few problems, and the few they do are relatively benign. Some of the larger species may cause problems around poultry houses, occasionally taking chicks or eggs, but—except for the venomous species— snakes are not a threat to humans or their pets. That does not convince people who have a deep-seated fear of these animals that they are harmless, and the fear some people have at even a glimpse of these reptiles contributes mightily to what are real conflicts between humans and snakes.

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/snakes/tips/solving_problems_snakes.html

Reptiles pose a threat beyond disease transmission. Snakes and lizards, often sold as hatchlings, can reach six feet or more—posing a physical threat to humans and companion animals. Even small turtles can outgrow their tanks, and their welcome.

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/exotic_pets/facts/reptile_trade.html

These large constricting snakes are not suitable as pets; they suffer from capture in the wild and long-distance transport for trade; they can injure and kill people who possess or interact with them; and they can wreak havoc on our natural resources as an invasive species, killing native wildlife, including endangered animals.

http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2012/01/constrictor-snake-news.html ====================================================================================

For public health, conservation, and humane reasons, The HSUS recommends that the general public forgo pet reptiles.

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/exotic_pets/facts/reptile_trade.html ====================================================================================

Frequently Asked Questions: The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act (H.R. 669) Will all exotic species be banned? No. H.R. 669 does not ban any species per se. It establishes a science-based process to evaluate species for their likelihood to harm the economy, the environment, public health, or other animals. The evaluation process will identify and prohibit trade in species judged to be a serious risk. Species found to be safe will be approved for trade. Further, the bill requires that this process be transparent and that stakeholder input be considered in decision-making. The process would not take affect for several years.

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/exotic_pets/facts/hr_669_faq.html

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