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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USARK Legal Action Against FWS Constrictor Rule

Approximately three months have passed since U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) took the unprecedented action of adding four constricting snakes to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. Never before have animals widely held by the American public been listed. Originally FWS suggested the addition of all of Boa, Python and Eunectes. The list was whittled down to nine constricting snakes after the highly controversial “Risk Assessment” was published by Gordon Rodda and Robert Reed of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The final rule was announced in January 2012. USARK was able to block five of the nine proposed snakes by taking dynamic action against the rule. Never before had a Injurious Wildlife listing been challenged or blocked. Nevertheless, the final rule was enacted March 23rd 2012 with four constricting snakes.

U.S. Geological Survey

From the very beginning of this process USARK has been very careful to lay the groundwork and establish the public record that would afford us the ability to take legal action if necessary. Scientists from all over the world have criticized the sloppy and speculative work used by FWS to justify Lacey Act listing. In 2010 USARK filed a formal challenge of the USGS “Risk Assessment” under the Information Quality Act. In 2011 Georgetown Economic Services (GES) published “The Modern Reptile Industry”, an independent and comprehensive economic survey that included the impact that a Lacey Act listing was likely to have on legitimate business interests. The GES report demonstrated how the listing could impact as much as $104 million in trade annually. USARK built a clear and convincing case that FWS was potentially arbitrary and capricious in their zeal for a listing.

USARK and its counsel are carefully reviewing their legal options for addressing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s unwarranted listing of four constricting snakes, including Burmese pythons, on the Lacey Act’s Injurious Wildlife list. We believe the listing decision was precipitous, unsupported by the best available science, and poor policy. USARK is also concerned about the five other species of snakes, including Boa constrictor, that FWS has deferred addressing.

High quality captive bred Burmese python morphs

We believe FWS has exceeded its Lacey Act authority in terms of the breadth of the restrictions placed on the four listed species. The organization will continue to develop its legal theories and develop a plan for addressing the industry’s legitimate concerns with the proposed and final rules.

These legal maneuvers are not inexpensive, and will be even more costly if it is necessary to file a federal lawsuit. Our goal is to raise $250,000 between now and the end of the year. This is only a start. If we file a lawsuit it could easily require twice that amount. FWS doesn’t think that the Reptile Nation is capable of fielding a serious legal challenge to their arbitrary Lacey Act listing. They don’t think we can raise the money. We have waited until our legal team gave us the word that they felt we have a strong and clear course of action to follow. Now is the time for the Reptile Nation to stand up and take back what is ours!

Please use PayPal to donation@usark.org. Please put “LAW” in the comment or note area; or you can mail a check to: USARK, PO Box 279, Grandy, NC 27939. Please put “LAW” in the memo line.

donate

 

This blog has been shared directly from http://usark.org/action-alert/usark-legal-action-against-fws-constrictor-rule/

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) is a registered non-profit organization duly incorporated in the state of North Carolina. We are advocates for the practice of Herpetoculture; the non-traditional agricultural pursuit of farming high quality captive bred reptiles & amphibians for conservation projects, zoos, museums, research facilities, education, entertainment and pets. We are dedicated to conservation through captive propagation, and espouse the ideal of, “Preserving Reptiles & Amphibians for Our Future”. We endorse a ‘Keepers Code of Ethics’. Our members are veterinarians, researchers, breeders, manufacturers, feed producers, hobbyists and pet owners; collectively known as the Reptile Nation. Our membership accounts for annual trade revenues of $1.4 billion in the US. USARK is the only advocate of the conservation, responsible ownership and trade of reptiles and amphibians as a #1 priority with no conflicting interests.

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Python Ban: The Answers to Living Under the Lacey Act

 

 

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.

Today the listing of of 4 large constricting snake species as injurious under the Lacey Act officially goes into effect. At Prehistoric Pets we have had many customers, friends, and fans who have been calling in to find out exactly what this means to them. To provide a clear answer to the most commonly asked questions, today’s blog will highlight the most important changes with links to the government agencies where further resources and information can be found.

 

 

Q: When is the rule in effect?

A: Today, March 23, 2012

 

Q: What animals are included?

A:  Burmese Python, North African Python, Southern African Python, Yellow Anaconda, their eggs and hybrids.

 

Q: What does the listing entail?

A: No importation or interstate transport of the included animals.

 

Q: Is it still legal to own, breed, and display these animals?

A: Yes, if there are no further restrictions in your area of residence, these animals may still be kept for pets, display, and breeding, but at no point can move across state lines.

 

Q: If I move to another state can I bring my listed pet?

A: No. There is absolutely no interstate transport of the 4 listed species within the United States for personal purposes. All interstate transport of the listed species will result in penalty under the Lacey Act.

 

Q: What options do I have as an owner of one of these animals who is relocating to another state?

A: There are some options as provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife below.

Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s Pet Pathway Toolkit: www.petpathwaytoolkit.com

Habitattitude www.habitattitude.net

 

Q: Can these animals be rescued from out of state?

A: No. Rescues may only care for animals currently within their state.

 

Q: Can these animals be purchased online or at trade shows?

A: Only if their original location is within your state. For example to purchase a Burmese python from Prehistoric Pets you must live within the state of California. If you live in the state of Colorado you will be unable to purchase a Burmese python from Prehistoric Pets and instead must locate a Colorado based breeder.

 

Q: Can these animals be exported out of the country?

A: Yes, if there are no US stops during transport. For example if a shipment from Los Angeles International Airport is headed to London’s Heathrow International Airport the flight cannot make a stop at John F Kennedy International Airport, this would be considered interstate transport between California and New York and furthermore a violation of the Lacey Act. NOTE: This listing also adds these animals in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) listing requiring CITES export permits.

 

Q: Are there any exceptions to the ban on importation or interstate transport?

A: There are only 4 exceptions to this rule which all must receive authorized and permitted approval BEFORE transport. These exceptions are medical (not veterinary), scientific, zoological, and education.

 

Q: Can I perform educational presentations outside of my state?

A: Yes, if the correct permitting requirements completed BEFORE transport. See below. NOTE: Please allow at least 60 days for permit processing.

 

Q: What steps are required to meet permitting requirements?

A:            1. Application Form 3-200-42 (www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-42.pdf)

                2. PERMANENT Housing in Double Escape-Proof Containment at ALL TIMES

               
Q: What does PERMANENT Housing in Double Escape-Proof Containment mean?

A: Under permit requirements all applied animals, including their offspring, must be kept in double escape-proof containment at ALL TIMES. Double escape-proof containment, just as it sounds, is defined as housing the animal in a secured area, within another equally as secured area. In regular housing this would mean in a locked cage within a locked room/building. During transport this would mean in a container within a larger secured container. If the animal is to be handled during an educational presentation it must be within a room with a closed door, which is within another room with a closed door. NOTE: This housing requirement is not only required during the permitted activity but for the life of the animal AND ALL OFFSPRING.

 

Q: What are the penalties for violating the Lacey Act?

A.   “Violations of the Lacey Act provisions may be prosecuted through either civil or criminal enforcement actions.  With respect to potential criminal penalties, a two-tiered penalty scheme exists, creating both misdemeanor and felony offenses, distinguished by a defendant’s knowledge of the underlying law.  For a Lacey Act violation to be a felony, the defendant must have knowingly imported or exported fish or wildlife or plants in violation an underlying law or regulation, or knowingly engaged in conduct during the offense that involved the sale or purchase of, the offer for sale or purchase of, or the intent to sell or purchase plants or wildlife with a market value of over $350 knowing that the fish or wildlife or plants were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of an underlying law or regulation.  A misdemeanor penalty requires that the defendant “in the exercise of due care” should have known the fish or wildlife or plants were taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of an underlying law or regulation. “ 

“Felony criminal sanctions are provided for violations involving imports or exports, or violations of a commercial nature in which the value of the wildlife is in excess of $350. A misdemeanor violation was established, with a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 1 year, or both. Civil penalties up to $10,000 were provided. However, the Criminal Fines Improvement Act of 1987 increased the fines under the Lacey Act for misdemeanors to a maximum of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for organizations. Maximum fines for felonies were increased to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations.

Those enforcing the Act are authorized to carry firearms, make qualified warrantless arrests for felony and misdemeanor violations of any law of the U.S. when enforcing the Act, search and seize under Attorney General guidelines, issue subpoenas and warrants, inspect vessels, vehicles, aircraft, packages, crates, and containers on arrival in the United States from outside the United States or prior to departure from the United States.” 

 

Sources:

http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2012/pdfs/ImplicationsoftheInjuriouslistingforthe4constrictorsnakes.pdf

http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/LACEY.HTML

http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2012/pdfs/FoursnakesQsAs11612.pdf

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CEsQFjAE&url=http://www.fs.fed.us/global/aboutus/policy/tt/illegal_logging/Lacey_Act_amendments_public_summary.doc&ei=Ie9sT-mIKKSxsgLOiK2bBg&usg=AFQjCNGZjhxeb3UmdQ1KqzxzaZzgk-E0kw

 

 

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Prepare Yourselves for NARBC at Tinley Park, IL

Today is our final prep day before Jay and Garrett head out to the Tinley Park NARBC: North American Reptile Breeders Conference this weekend! We will have 2 tables full of great python morphs to look at, and if the price is right to take home! Wonder what we're bringing? Here are just a couple glimpses into what you can expect this weekend.

 


The list is full of pythons including burms and rock pythons which are part of the "python ban" that goes into effect March 23. That means if you don't live in California this will be one of your last chances to pick up one of the 4 species from Prehistoric Pets. And of course there are plenty of industry leading retics on the list as well!

 

The Friday Summit is a place to not only hear from some of the industries top professionals but also BOTH of our voices in Washington PIJAC & USARK. Prior to the panel discussion we will hear from USARK and PIJAC about the most current legislation facing us, and what they are doing to fight it. Come prepared for the panel discussion loaded with questions, as the night is an open forum of Questions and Answers. When you leave Friday night you should know EXACTLY what you can do to better help in the fight against this onslaught of legislation our hobby and industry face. We hope to see everyone come out and participate in what we feel is THE MOST IMPORTANT HERP MEETING EVER. New legal issues will always be on the horizon so we will all need to be united in one voice or our hobby/industry are doomed........come out and HELP UNIFY THE INDUSTRY!

Friday, March 16th  Outside Main Exhibit Hall

7:00 PM Ben Siegel - Burmese Python Initiative
7:15 PM Andrew Wyatt – USARK President
7:45 PM Mike Canning – PIJAC President

USARK Summit at NARBC

If you plan on visiting this weekend's show be sure to stop by and say hello at our booth, but more importantly please make sure to attend the USARK summit on Friday night!

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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 "Good Science" 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 "good science" argument examining the quality and biases of the research backing country wide bans on large constrictors.

 

 

 

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Question 3:  What scientific data are evaluated for an injurious wildlife listing?

First, the agency evaluates the factors that contribute to a species being considered injurious, including:

·         the likelihood of release or escape;

·         potential to survive, become established, and spread;

·         impacts on wildlife resources and or ecosystems through hybridization and competition 

·         for food/habitats, habitat degradation/destruction, predation, and pathogen transfer;

·         impact to threatened and endangered species and their habitats; 

·         impacts to human beings, forestry, horticulture, and agriculture; and 

·         wildlife or habitat damages that may occur from control measures 

Second, the Service evaluates factors that reduce the likelihood of the invasive species causing harm, including the:

·         ability to prevent escape and establishment; 

·         potential to eradicate or manage established populations;

·         ability to rehabilitate disturbed ecosystems;

·         ability to prevent or control the spread of pathogens or parasites; and

·         any potential ecological benefits to introduction.

http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2012/pdfs/FoursnakesQsAs11612.pdf

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Question 9:  There have been other studies on constrictor snakes and the risk of their establishment in wild populations in the U.S.  Does the 2009 USGS risk assessment on these four constrictor snakes continue to represent the best available science on this subject?

The 2009 USGS risk assessment still represents the best available science.  Scientists associated with academic and other institutions are working on similar research questions, but none has reached new conclusions through comparable process or analyses to date. Please also see the accompanying fact sheet Global Experts Concur with Science to Predict Spread of Large Constrictor Snakes for more information.

http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2012/pdfs/FoursnakesQsAs11612.pdf

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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Question 17:  What steps related to the Lacey Act were taken to evaluate large constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife?

The completion of the risk assessment done by USGS was an important milestone in our evaluation and a requirement before additional steps could be taken. 

http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2012/pdfs/FoursnakesQsAs11612.pdf

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.

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

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The Peer Review process is the scientific standard which every legitimate scientific paper (that is published in scientific journals) must go through to become accepted as reliable science. Not surprising however is fact that no such standard is utilized by the USGS, even though it is a necessary legal process used to determine the legitimacy of any proposed and intended) act: in this case, the ruination of a legitimate business which seeks to promote the establishment of populations of species otherwise destined for survival challenges or worse, extinction. In fact their “reports” are purportedly reviewed by anonymous “scientists” of the USGS choosing and follow NONE of the necessary Peer Review protocols to substantiate their claims. 

http://axcessnews.com/index.php/articles/show/id/22357

 

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Let me correct two common misconceptions first. This study was not done by the National Academy of Sciences as many stories reported; it was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- big difference. Likewise this was not a nine-year study in that we did not start this study nine years ago. We started this study 1-2 years ago and collected information that was available over a nine-year period (2003-2011) and compared it to similar data collected earlier (1993-1999). And sure enough a very dramatic pattern did exist. I liken what we did to a grand jury investigation. We amassed the available evidence and asked if it was sufficient to demonstrate that a crime had occurred (mammal populations had declined) and to suggest that pythons could be responsible (they had motive, means, and opportunity). An indictment was handed down. That does not mean the pythons are guilty. It does mean we need to go to trial. According to English law the accused should be considered innocent until proven guilty. In science terms we call this a null hypothesis, or a statement of no effect. Of course none of this sells newspapers, draws viewers to a television station, or causes hits on a website.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-mazzotti/pythons-everglades-study_b_1257911.html

 

 

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Python Ban: The Precedent 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 expandability argument that is so often pushed to the background. Although the number of species was limited from 9 to 4 these articles show a clear direction.

 

 

PRECEDENT ARGUMENT

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Question 6:  One of the pet industry’s concerns is:  If the government can restrict the movement of these species, it could also do it for other species that people hold as pets. 

This could set a precedent.  What do you say to that?

Since its enactment in 1900, the Lacey Act has authorized the federal government to prohibit the importation and transport of certain, harmful species in the United States.  Both Congress and the Administration, have restricted the importation and interstate movement of species or groups of species involved in the pet trade. 

This rule sets no broad policy precedent; it is consistent with similar Administration rules under the Lacey Act and Congressional amendments to the Lacey Act.   It is promulgated under the statutory parameters and restrictions imposed by the Lacey Act and other statutes relevant to the federal promulgation of Administrative law, including both its scope and the policy issue it addresses.

[2 Paragraphs Above] The Service is continuing to consider the status of the other five species and will publish final determinations for those species when that process is completed. 

http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2012/pdfs/FoursnakesQsAs11612.pdf

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Environmental groups say the rule is a small but important step toward preventing entry of animal imports that pose significant risks to ecosystems and public safety.

“This listing is one step toward limiting the massive flow of harmful species into this country, but the current listing approach doesn’t even come close to keeping up with the 21st century trade of live animals.” “We are urging Congress and the Administration to advance broader regulatory reforms of the injurious species listing process.”

-Peter Jenkins spokesperson for the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS)

http://www.necis.net/2012/01/obama-administration-releases-rule-to-prohibit-import-of-some-large-constrictor-snakes/

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Salazar Announces Ban on Importation and Interstate Transportation of Four Giant Snakes that Threaten Everglades

Ashe said the Service will continue to consider listing as injurious the five other species of nonnative snakes that the agency also proposed in 2010 – the reticulated python, boa constrictor, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda.

http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Salazar-Announces-Ban-on-Importation-and-Interstate-Transportation-of-Four-Giant-Snakes-that-Threaten-Everglades.cfm

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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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