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.





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.,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.


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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

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.

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


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