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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Python Ban: The Special Interest 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 special interest argument examining where the support and attack on this legislation is really coming from.

 

 

SPECIAL INTREST ARGUMENT

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The U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers spent $213,202 on lobbying since 2009, as the ban was being considered, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political spending.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sfl-obama-administration-to-make-major-burmese-python-announcement-20120116,0,2260910.story

Democratic Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado received $109,520 from interest groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, to support of HR 2811 along with $62,204  to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. Then received the same amount again in support of HR669 for a total of $343,448 to these 2 Senators alone.

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h2811/money

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

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The Way Washington Works

Here’s a timeline.

June 2006: The South Florida Water Management District petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) requesting the listing of Burmese pythons as injurious under the Lacey Act, a federal law that regulates trade in wildlife.

January 2008FWS published a Notice of Inquiry in the Federal Register asking the public for comments on several large constrictor snakes.

July 2009U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about the dangers posed by large constricting snakes to Florida’s ecosystems, unveiling the skin of a 17-foot Burmese python perhaps shed in the Everglades. 

October 2009The U.S. Geological Survey issued a science-based report that identifies nine species of large, constricting snakes as posing a medium or high risk as invasive species in the United States.

March 2010FWS issued a proposed rule to list nine large constrictor snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act.

January 2011: Open Secrets, a website that discloses federal lobbying expenditures, announced that the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers spent $120,000 lobbying against the FWS rule. USARK submitted a report saying that banning the trade in these species would cost the industry $100 million–an utterly absurd figure. 

March 2011: The White House Office of Management and Budget/Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs received the final rule from FWS. (This White House agency's review process is usually 90 days, yet the rule was held up for 10 months.)

January 2012: Salazar makes the announcement covering only the four species.

 

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

Missing from timeline:

Democratic Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado received $109,520 from interest groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, to support of HR 2811 along with $62,204  to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. Then received the same amount again in support of HR669 for a total of $343,448 to these 2 Senators alone.

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h2811/money

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

The Information Quality Act governs the standard of quality of information used to substantiate a federal rule making such as the Constrictor Rule. Because, at the behest of USARK, it was confirmed from scientists round the world that the USGS Constrictor Report was NOT the kind of quality scientific work to base policy or legislative changes on, USARK filed a formal challenge in 2010 of the Constrictor Report in the form of a Request for Correction of the myriad of errors, misstatements and inconsistencies within the document. USGS responded that they were not held to information quality standards under the IQA because their "Grey" paper was NOT deemed at the time of publication to be a "Highly Influential" document; meaning that their estimate of the economic impact of the rule it was supporting fell below the $100 million threshold that constitutes a major rule. Unfortunately for them USARK commissioned Georgetown Economic Services to do a comprehensive economic assessment of the reptile industry. They researched the entire industry and determined that the rule, in fact, reached beyond the threshold to approximately $104 million. This put the entire rule making process in jeopardy, because now USGS and FWS could be held to account in a federal courtroom for bypassing information quality standards under IQA. After USARK proved that this would indeed fall into major rule territory, White House oversight officials appeared ready to bury the rule.... Until HSUS, The Nature Conservancy and Defenders of Wildlife pressured Florida politicians to ask Obama to push rule through. Then government did what it always does, it compromised. They chose 4 snakes that would not carry the economic impact constituting a major rule and enacted this limited version avoiding the mandatory integrity in science demanded by going after all 9.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/USARK-United-States-Association-of-Reptile-Keepers/93475517723

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Special Interests and Their Brand of Snake Oil

Hundreds of thousands of the animals have been imported into the country in recent years, and there’s almost never a good outcome for these hapless creatures. 

http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2011/09/constrictor-snakes.html

It’s easy to rail at Washington, and in so many cases, it’s the right response. But there’s more to the story. Rail at the special interests that are thwarting the public good. And take action to turn it around. It’s up to us to provide a counterweight and to restore some good sense and sound policies. If we leave the playing field to the reptile dealers, the puppy millers, the NRA and so many other selfish interests, the animals won’t stand a chance.

http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2011/09/constrictor-snakes.html


Animal Protection Priorities – 111th Congress

Pythons – S. 373 / H.R. 2811 – To amend the Lacey Act to add pythons to the list of injurious species prohibited from interstate commerce and importation.  Leaders:  Sen. Bill Nelson / Rep. Meek  House Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 2811 held on 7/29/09, narrowing bill to Burmese pythons and Rock pythons.   Hearing on S. 373 held on 7/8/09 in EPW Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife. 

Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act – H.R. 669 – To prevent the introduction and establishment in the U.S. of nonnative wildlife species that may hurt the economy, environment, human health, or native wildlife. Leader:  Rep. Bordallo  Hearing held on 3/23/09 in House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/legislation/111th-congress-humane-agenda-1.pdf

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

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2009/01/bill_to_address_exotic_animal_importation_introduced_012709.html

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Live Reptile Trade: The reptile trade puts human health, the environment, and the animals at risk

The recent explosion in the popularity of pet reptiles—the number topped 13 million in 2009, according to the American Pet Products Association—is bad news for people, reptiles, and the environment.

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

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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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Python Ban: The Economic 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 economic argument that is so often misconstrued and sensationalized by comparing annual costs to the cost over time.

 

 

ECONOMIC ARGUMENT

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“Unfortunately, when it came to weighing the economic interests of these few breeders against the enormous economic and ecological damage these snakes can cause, the Administration was sold a bottle of snake oil.” –Dr. Bruce Stein of the National Wildlife Federation

National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species

 

Actual Facts: From 2005-2012 the “enormous” economic damage to the US Fish and Wildlife Service was about $6 million or $720,000-$850,000 annually. The estimated loss by these “few breeders” will be $10.7 million - $21.8 million annually by the current listing of just 3 species.Fish and Wildlife Services: Economic Impact

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Question 19: Did you determine if there will be economic or environmental impacts if these species are listed under the Lacey Act?

The Service’s Division of Economics reviewed all of the comments related to the economic impact of the proposed rule and updated the economic analysis. The total annual decrease in economic output if all of the nine large constrictors were listed as injurious under the Lacey Act is estimated to range from $42.0 to $86.2 million.[1] For four species, the decrease in economic output is estimated to be $10.7 to 21.8 million. These estimates assume that consumers will not increase their purchases of other species in response to the unavailability of the listed species. If consumers do switch to other species, the impact on economic output would be reduced.

State and Federal agencies have expended millions of public dollars [2] to address the threats posed by pythons in the Everglades If the spread of these species is not controlled, we anticipate that State and Federal agencies would need to spend even more money to address the threats posed in other areas of the United States. These costly control measures could be reduced or prevented by this listing under the Lacey Act.

Fish and Wildlife Services: Four Snakes Q&A

 

[1] Unfortunately for them USARK commissioned Georgetown Economic Services to do a comprehensive economic assessment of the reptile industry. They researched the entire industry and determined that the rule, in fact, reached beyond the threshold to approximately $104 million. USARK Facebook

[2] From 2005-2012 US Fish and Wildlife Service spent $6 million [$720,000-$850,000 ANNUALLY] Estimated loss in industry [9 species $42 million -$104 million ANNUALLY] [4 species minimum $10.7 million - $21.8 million ANNUALLY] Fish and Wildlife Services: Economic Impact

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Question 22: Will the pet industry lose revenue and jobs as a result of this rule?

The Service’s Division of Economics reviewed all of the public comments related to the economic impact of the proposed rule that were submitted during the two public comment periods and updated the economic analysis. The total ANNUAL DECREASE IN ECONOMIC OUTPUT from listing the four large constrictors as injurious under the Lacey Act is estimated to range from $10.7 TO $21.8 MILLION (assuming that consumers do not switch their purchases to other species). However, the cost of controlling wild populations of large constrictor snakes currently in the United States, through state and Federal control efforts has been ABOUT $6 MILLION THUS FAR. [THAT’S LESS THAN $850,000 ANNUALLY] Failure to stop the spread of these snakes into additional locations would result in significantly increased public expense. This cost could be reduced in Florida -- or prevented in other jurisdictions-- by this listing under the Lacey Act.   Fish and Wildlife Services: Four Snakes Q&A

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How can we afford to regulate animal imports, it’s too expensive?

There will be costs to regulate the trade in exotic animals, but the cost of not acting is even greater. One Florida county reportedly spent $110,000 over two years, and another spends $120,000 annually, to remove nonnative iguanas for example. Cash-strapped governments do not have funds to devote to these efforts. Moreover, once established, eliminating exotic species may be impossible and inhumane. Humane Society of United States: HR669 Facts

Again the Actual Facts: From 2005-2012 the “enormous” economic damage to the US Fish and Wildlife Service was $6 million [$720,000-$850,000 ANNUALLY] The estimated loss by these “few breeders” [9 species $42 million -$104 million ANNUALLY] [4 species minimum $10.7 million - $21.8 million ANNUALLY] Fish and Wildlife Services: Economic Impact

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Listing the snakes as injurious may cost the reptile industry as much as $104 million in domestic sales each year, or $1.2 billion over the next decade, driving some breeders out of business, Kelley Drye & Warren said in a report for its clients. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the industry would lose $3.6 million to $10.7 million a year and about 200 jobs may disappear.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, which reviews U.S. regulatory proposals, said in a May 10, 2010, letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that the federal calculations didn’t fully examine the “significant economic impact on a substantial number” of small businesses. Bloomberg News

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The snake sellers argue that it’s a jobs issue—that a federal crackdown on the trade will cost them jobs. They want to preserve their profits and their opportunity to exploit these animals at the expense of so many other people. Is it possible to put a figure on the life of a child killed by a pet snake that should never have been in this country—no mind in someone’s living room in Sumter County, Fla.? And what’s the cost of the death of hundreds of thousands of snakes who suffer and die as a result of this trade? The Interior Department does have an answer on some of the ecological costs. It says it’s spending about $100 million this year to combat invasive species such as the pythons in Florida. Humane Society Blog

In 2011 alone, the Department of the Interior will spend $100 million on prevention, early detection, control and management, research, and more [on ALL known invasive species not just Burmese Pythons] Fish and Wildlife Services: Cost of Invasive Species

Again the Actual Facts: From 2005-2012 the “enormous” economic damage to the US Fish and Wildlife Service was $6 million [$720,000-$850,000 ANNUALLY] The estimated loss by these “few breeders” [9 species $42 million -$104 million ANNUALLY] [4 species minimum $10.7 million - $21.8 million ANNUALLY] Fish and Wildlife Services: Economic Impact

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Recent invasions by imported animal species such as the constrictor snakes, Asian carp, and red lionfish are together costing federal, state, and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars annually in efforts to control them.

National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species

 Again the Actual Facts: From 2005-2012 the “enormous” economic damage to the US Fish and Wildlife Service was $6 million [$720,000-$850,000 ANNUALLY] The estimated loss by these “few breeders” [9 species $42 million -$104 million ANNUALLY] [4 species minimum $10.7 million - $21.8 million ANNUALLY] Fish and Wildlife Services: Economic Impact

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Ineffective legislation based on fear, sensationalism, and shoddy facts should always be opposed. Unfortunately this addition to the Lacey Act includes all of these features and threatens to dismantle the reptile industry along with all of its educational resources including The Reptile Zoo and Jurassic Parties.

Please sign this petition and share it with your family to show your support of responsible animal ownership, effective and truthful legislation, and the many families who will be detrimentally affected if this becomes law without review.

White House Petition Overturn the Python Ban

 

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