Introducing GRAIN!

 

In response to the countless pushes in legislation to ban or prohibit ownership of reptiles and other exotics, more based in fear and false accusations, we have joined up with other leaders in the reptile industry to create an educational resource to continue to promote fact based respect and care for these animals.

As our community continues to grow we are overwhelmed by the positive support we have received! Below are just a few of the great examples of GRAIN supporters from around the world sharing their love and knowledge about these amazing animals with their community.

My daughter with our tortoise, Donna. I bought Donna the same month I got pregnant. These two have always been with each other. Donna is 6 yrs old and my daughter is 5. :) -Mindi SueLee

 

You can see the passion in these childrens eyes! They arent born with a fear and hatred of these animals, its given to them by their guardians, and the media!!! Lets show them the truth! EDUCATION TRUMPS SPECULATION!!!!! SHOWING PEOPLE WHAT THESE ANIMALS ARE REALLY ABOUT!!!!! NOT THE BS THAT THE MAJORITY BELIEVE!!!!This is what its about!!! Teaching the next generation about these wonderful animals, and guiding them the RIGHT WAY!!!! -Jake Klotz

 

Here's a pic from when my educational program got the cover of the local paper last year. -John Sheerin

 

 

This was one of my favorite "reptile" discussions of all time! In between shows for the kids, this 80 year old lady came up to me and started asking me questions. She had never seen an alligator, let alone most any other reptile up close. The conversation lasted about 20 minutes, and as her husband repeatedly told her that they had to go home... she didn't want to, and told him to "hush for a minute, We're talking". She walked in scared and confused, thinking that most reptiles were good for nothing, and left in love with a 6 foot alligator. -Loren Morales

 

 

Here is a little girl that wanted to hold Midnight our Black & White Tegu. This was a great show and everyone got involved! -Roaming Reptiles

 

 

Pythons are loved and kept Globally.! Country: Pakistan -Hamza Hussain Simjee

 

 

A group of Police officers we did a show for, for "National Night Out Against Crime" -Beanie Villerman

 

 

Reptiles + Education = Success -Beanie Villerman

 

My Reptiles are my Life. I wanted to share a side of reptiles that most luckily have not experienced. I have had reptiles my entire life, even as a child my parents would take me to the pet store week after week for me to purchase food with my allowance money for my animals. I would catch snakes and frogs when I was young until I was able to save enough money and gain enough knowledge to purchase more advanced animals from the pet stores. I always had the sense of responsibility for caring for my animals since the day I found my first one and I always had the support of my parents to back me up.

When I turned 13 I sadly lost my Father. Being an only child mean I had to step up and work harder at home and harder to support my reptile collection. I did everything I could from mowing lawns to washing cars in my neighborhood. When I 15 I got my workers permit and began working as much as I could while going though highschool. I was working full time by junior year. I lost my mother to a very short battle with cancer, she passed the day I graduated High school. I was forced into adult hood before I even started college. I was also now the only possible means of providing proper care for my reptiles. Losing your loved ones, especially your parents can do serious damage to an individual.

I am a fighter and I knew I had to support myself and my Reptiles, I choose to NEVER GIVE UP and continue to fight harder for what I wanted in life. I have a very strong connection with my reptiles and I was their only way to thrive. Working though college, being on my own, buying a house, and marrying my beautiful wife showed me that giving up in NEVER an option! Not for me, Not for my Dream, and NOT FOR MY REPTILES! My animals keep me moving forward in the worst times of my life. I have kept many species of reptiles and amphibians From my child hood until now. I proud to say am living my dream of breeding Reticulated pythons and supporting a large collection on my own. My reptiles have always been there for me and I have always been here for them. I wanted to share this short story because REPTILES CAN SAVE LIVES  -Shane Castello

 

 

Here is one of our shows that we did for a school here in town. We reached over 700 children and teachers. -Roaming Reptiles

 

If you have a story to share be sure to a become a fan of GRAIN on Facebook! Then share your story and share GRAIN with your friends! We are here to spread education and respect for all types of pets loved who we devote our time, resources, and lives to caring for.

 

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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 Discussion

In several of the documents relating to the addition of several species of snakes to the Lacey Act the assumption is made that during the periods of public comment very few responses were received, and those that were received were carefully considered.

Question 12:  What prompted the reopening of the public comment period of the proposed rule to list the Indian (Burmese) python and eight other large constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act?

Answer:   In response to a number of requests from stakeholders, the Service granted an additional 30 days for the public comment period on the proposed rule for a total of 90 days.  

Question 13:  How many public comments did the Service receive? 

Answer:  The Service received about 56,500 comments for the proposed rule.  The public can view these comments at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R9-FHC-2008-0015.  A final determination was made after a comprehensive review of the scientific data and the information contained in comments submitted by the public and peer reviewers

 

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

 

Here at Prehistoric Pets we believe it is the duty of those in office to protect the rights and wishes of their constituents and the duty of those constituents to get involved and carry an open discussion with their elected officials.

This is why we have stayed constantly involved in the discussion emailing, calling, and scheduling meetings with our representatives. Today’s blog includes our letter to Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer explaining our concerns for this legislation. We did not receive the response we had wished for, but at least our voice was heard.

Senator Boxer / Senator Feinstein ,

 

My name is Jay Brewer. I live and work in Orange County, Ca., actually for the past 22 years I have run and operated my small business, Prehistoric Pets.  I emailed you a bit early about setting up a one on one meeting regarding S 373. Below I have included some information on myself, my business, and my concerns for this bill. If we don't get a chance to meet I would appreciate if you could at least understand my stance on this subject and why this cause is so important.

When I opened Prehistoric Pets, as Pet Country, in 1988 the store focused on providing quality pets and service to our customers. As our stock of exotic reptiles grew we had the opportunity to expand first into a 5000 sq ft location in 1992, and then expand again in 2000. Our inventive set-up was the first of its kind, which I designed to create a zoo-like atmosphere with the philosophy“build it and they will come.” This philosophy proved correct and new customers started visiting the store to observe exotic reptiles, which are not displayed at even the largest of zoos.

This collection of specialized and rare reptiles also set PrehistoricPets.com apart, as a large online provider of quality reptiles. Demand for a new variety of high-end reptiles led to an increase of specialty breeding projects behind the scenes at our Fountain Valley location. These online sales, exported around the world and throughout the US, quickly became a very successful and large source of income for Prehistoric Pets. In 1995, we also began promoting our party business, Jurassic Parties, which proved very successful. Through Jurassic Parties we were able to educate the public at both schools and private events about reptiles using hands-on interaction with reptiles these children would have otherwise only read about in science books , to this day we have provided over 12,000 of these educational presentations across Southern California. These two factors combined allowed the 2000 expansion to its current size of 10,000 sq ft, with the most zoo-like experience over doubling our location size and producing a banner year in 2005.

As owner I have used difficult economic periods as a time to find a new niches Prehistoric Pets could settle into. From a 2000 gallon pond in the middle of the store, filled with Giant tropical fish to the displays exhibiting thousands of exotic reptiles of all sizes, Prehistoric Pets is a zoo. Over the summer we converted half of our location into a paid admission zoo, The Reptile Zoo, that serves as an educational center involving hands-on interaction with various types of reptiles. The support from customers, especially mothers, has been overwhelming. They love The Reptile Zoo and Prehistoric Pets as a destination for low price high benefit education entertainment for their children.

Unfortunately S 373 threatens to obliterate my passion and the business I have put my heart and soul into for the past 25 years also destroy an education resource for thousands of families throughout Orange and Los Angeles County without solving the problem it seeks to correct in South Florida.

As I had mentioned before along with running our 10,000 sq ft reptile zoo we are also one of the premiere breeders of Reticulated Pythons , honestly, in the world. We focus in the breeding of specialty "morphs", or color and pattern variations, that are completely impossible in the wild. With 25 years of this specialized breeding I have grown quite a stock in captive bred animals, making it extremely rare to ever import an animal from the wild.

Here in California we enjoy rather wonderful weather, but the majority of the United States is not as privileged with average temperatures in the high sixties. But even in such a warm weather I must spend thousands of dollars monthly to provide specialized heating for every single one of my snakes. You must understand, especially in these tough economic times, I would love to cut costs and stop paying for this heat but without it my animals would quickly catch colds, yes they can catch colds just like people, and sadly die. The same is true for breeders and reptile owners across the country that spend millions of dollars every year to provide specialized environments and care for our animals that would not be able to survive without our support. The reason it would be so impossible for these animals to survive even with balmy day temperatures of 60-80 degrees here in Southern California is their absolute reliance on surrounding temperatures. Snakes are cold blooded, which means unlike humans they cannot raise their own body temperature. Though they might enjoy the warm temperatures during the day with the extreme drop in temperature each night these snakes wouldn’t be able to bring their body temperature back up to a safe level, resulting in as I mentioned before severe colds and a quick death.

Another issue I see with this bill is regarding the actual "invasive threat" of these pythons and boas. Boas have lived in Mexico from the beginning of time and have not crossed the border or been cause for worry regarding infestation or destruction of wildlife... and even Burmese pythons have been in the Everglades for the last twenty something years without moving far north let alone the entire US. When you look at any study of the natural habitat of these pythons then follow the latitude line to where it crosses the United States you will find highest range these pythons can survive crosses into only a small section of Florida and nowhere else in the United States. If there is a problem in Florida it should be a state level with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee, as it currently is.

Thank you so much for hearing me out. I look forward to the opportunity to talk with you face to face in the very near future.

How was your voice heard? Have you contacted your representatives? Were you able to schedule an appointment to meet with one of their staff? What was their response?

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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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