Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

python/boa ban update

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • python/boa ban update

    UPDATE: HR2811 Hearing Recap

    On Friday, November the 6th at 10:00 am the USARK delegation consisting of Andrew Wyatt, Dr. Elliott Jacobson, Michael Cole, Frank Vitello and Todd Willens attended the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Sub Committee for Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Hearing on HR 2811 aka ‘The Python Ban’. Chairman of the Committee was Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA). The ranking member was Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX). Co-sponsor of the bill, Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) was also in attendance. The expert witnesses giving testimony in support of HR 2811 were the bills' sponsor, Kendrick Meek (D-FL), Dan Ash, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Nancy Perry, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and George Horne, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Testifying in opposition to HR 2811 was Andrew Wyatt, President USARK and Dr. Elliott Jacobson, Professor of Zoological Medicine, University of Florida.

    Testimony went very much as expected, with HSUS and SFWMD calling for an end to the reptile industry, suggesting that all nine snakes addressed in the recent U.S Geologic Survey (USGS) report be added by amendment to HR 2811. That would include all four anaconda species, the two African pythons, Burmese python, reticulated python and Boa Constrictor. The surprising testimony was given by USFWS when they also called for the addition of all nine snakes to the bill citing their lack of expertise and ability to complete the evaluation of Boa, Python and Eunectes already underway and due to be completed by 2010.

    Andrew Wyatt testified to the negative economic impact and loss of jobs that would occur if HR 2811 were to pass illustrating that the trade in reptiles is about 3 billion dollars annually and would effect on over 5 million Americans and thousands of small businesses. He also pointed out the fact that this bill is not only about import, but the approximately 4 million animals in captivity in the United States. HR 2811 makes absolutely no provisions for what would happen to the millions of animals already in captivity. Additionally he commented that this issue has been over sensationalized and politicized sacrificing good policy and science for political expediency. The premise for making drastic changes to HR 2811 was predicated on the recent USGS report which failed to make the case that proponents had hoped for.
    Dr. Elliott Jacobson testified that the USGS report was riddled with uncertainty and referred to it as a “gray paper”. Dr. Jacobson noted that the paper was filled with errors, inaccuracies and over simplifications and had not gone through the rigorous peer review process necessary to be published in a scientific journal, but rather an internal review within USGS, thus placing it in the realm of “gray literature”.

    Although some members of the committee were overly aggressive in their questioning of Andrew Wyatt, Chairman Scott, Ranking member Gohmert and Representatives Rooney and Goodlatte were earnest and inquisitive in their questions and attempt to see all sides. USARK was able to make a strong case for the Reptile Nation. No decisions have been made as to how HR 2811 will move forward. USARK continues to have close contact with key members and committee staff in order to insure the best interest of the reptile community.

    ***All in all it was a very tough hearing, but this is not over by a long shot. This is the time for the Reptile Nation to come together as never before. We still have the ability to have real influence on the outcome. Join USARK! There is Strength in Numbers... Protect Your Rights. The Reptile Nation needs you now as never before. DO NOT GIVE UP!!! The Reptile Nation will prevail.

    Click here to read individual testimony. Then click the name of the witness.
    Hearing on: H.R. 2811, a bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to include constrictor snakes of the species Python genera as an injurious animal
    Click here to see the Webcast. It is in two pieces.
    http://jetpythons.com/HR2811Nov6.wmv
    http://jetpythons.com/HR2811Nov62.wmv



    USARK Testimony on HR2811 before House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee for Crime, Terrorism & Homeland Security

    Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be before you and present testimony today on HR. 2811, a bill to amend title 18 of the U.S. Code, to include constrictor snakes of the species Python genera as an injurious animal.

    My name is Andrew Wyatt and I am here representing the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK), of which I serve as President.

    By way of background, USARK represents the highly sophisticated commercial production of captive bred reptiles in the United States. We are a science and education based advocacy for the responsible private ownership of, and trade in reptiles. USARK endorses caging standards, sound husbandry, escape prevention protocols, and an integrated approach to vital conservation issues. Our goal is to facilitate cooperation between government agencies, the scientific community, and the private sector in order to produce policy proposals that will effectively address important husbandry and conservation issues. The health of these animals, public safety, and maintaining ecological integrity are our primary concerns.

    Over the past 60 years, the practice of keeping reptiles has changed from an obscure hobby to an incredibly widespread and mainstream part of the American experience. Reptiles have become intensely popular and are now present in millions of American households (1 in every 25 US Households has 1 or more reptiles). They now permeate pop culture, movies and advertising. Who doesn’t know the Geico Gecko?

    From early beginnings in the pet trade herpetoculture, the practice of breeding reptiles and amphibians, has grown into a sophisticated and independent $3 billion annual industry. Herpetoculturists produce high quality captive bred animals for collectors, research, zoos, museums, TV & film. For reference, these animals can be valued at over $100,000 for individual specimens. Millions of dollars flow into the national economy from the Reptile Industry. It is interlaced and interconnected with all levels of economies. Purchases of equipment, dry goods, bedding and cages channel money into U.S. manufacturing. Millions of dollars go to support American agriculture with purchases of food, including rodents, grain, bedding, vegetables and prepared diets. Millions of dollars more support airlines and parcel shippers. The Reptile Industry in the United States accounts for 82% of the worldwide export and trade in high quality captive bred reptiles. Thousands of American small businesses and their employees depend on the Reptile Industry.

    Reptiles are an animal interest that have captivated an incredibly diverse cross section of the American demographics; from scientists to school children, Wall Street bankers to construction workers, conservationists, attorneys, teachers, rock stars, actors and even politicians. Your friends and neighbors keep reptiles. Some member of your family keeps, or has kept, reptiles. Collectively we refer to this demographic as the Reptile Nation, comprising more than 5 million Americans. All are intensely interested in protecting their legal rights to possess and work with reptiles. Reptile keepers are single-issue voters when that issue is perceived as unnecessary, unwarranted, or unfair regulation of their legal right to own and care for their animals. An example of this passion and organization was witnessed earlier this year when Members of the House Committee on Natural Resources received nearly 50,000 letters from the Reptile Nation in advance of a legislative hearing on a well-intentioned but misguided and fatally flawed legislative proposal.

    USARK is concerned about feral Burmese Pythons in the Everglades and the impact they could potentially have on the eco-system of South Florida. We recognize the problem and have committed to be part of the solution. Our members have been intrinsic in the creation of a Python Removal Program in coordination with Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and we were the first to be licensed to remove pythons from state lands in South Florida. USARK has actively appealed to the U.S. Department of the Interior to open up Everglades National Park to a removal program modeled on the Florida program. We do not believe captured pythons should be re-released back into the Park for any reason. USARK has offered $10,000 to United States Fish & Wildlife Service to establish the basis of a program to get pythons out of Florida and into qualified hands that can securely and humanely house them for the rest of their natural lives. USARK has great expertise in regards to pythons; how to find them, where to find them, reproductive behaviors, predation, safe secure maintenance in captivity… etc. Unfortunately, in our view, the federal government has failed to capitalize on this vast pool of knowledge and experience to most effectively address the issue of feral Burmese Pythons in the Everglades National Park and South Florida.

    Beyond the invasiveness of the Burmese Python, it is our fear that the issue is becoming overly politicized and media-driven, thus creating a situation where we've selectively interpreted the available science. This is an issue area, especially in this Committee, that isn't especially well-known, and thus it lends itself to misinformation and over-generalizations. The physical danger posed by pythons toward humans has simply been grossly overstated. Even in their native range of South East Asia, where human population densities far exceed that of South Florida, deaths attributed to pythons are extremely rare. As a general matter, pythons have never posed a real threat to humans. That's not to say however, they make the best family pet in every case, or that they cannot pose a threat when best handling practices are not followed or existing laws designed to ensure responsible ownership are ignored. Only that they are not the dangerous killers portrayed by activists in the media.

    USARK estimates that today there are over 4 million Boas and Pythons in captivity in the United States. This represents about $1.6 billion in asset value and $1.8 billion in annual revenues. Of these in captivity today, 100,000 are Burmese Pythons or African Pythons. {None of these animals will be going anywhere, because there are no provisions in HR 2811 for the disposition of these animals.} USARK will continue to work on shifting the ongoing debate over these species toward policy resolutions based upon complete and solid science. The utmost of care should be taken in any attempt to mange the captive and feral populations. If mistakes are made, problems will only be compounded. Simply legislating animals onto the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act will not accomplish HR 2811’s stated intent. Rather, it will destroy the most valuable resource capable of effectively managing the millions of animals already here. If you reduce the value of these animals to zero and destroy the livelihoods of those most qualified to deal with the secure disposition of all of these animals, where will that leave us?

    USARK has been developing and employing best handling practices and accreditation for many years and welcomes a more in-depth discussion in this regard with congressional and administration officials. It is our belief that best management practices and professional standards specific to certain reptiles is what is needed, not draconian measures that will only succeed in destroying a viable industry.

    Not only is the reptile industry a viable component of the American economy, but we have made an unparalleled contribution to conservation; captive breeding as a conservation safety net. Captivity is now considered an important tool of vertebrate conservation. What is today being attempted around the world for amphibians through the International Amphibian Ark, and as proposed by the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act (H.R. 411 and S. 529), and many captivity programs for other rare vertebrates ranging from Sumatran rhinos to Guam kingfishers, has already been accomplished for reptiles. Today the vast majority of boas and pythons held in captivity are captive-bred animals. These are animals that have not been removed from the wild. Reptiles are today more securely established in captivity than any other vertebrate group. This is truly one of the greatest conservation accomplishments of the past 20 years.

    Almost all species and subspecies of boas and pythons have been bred in the United States. There are now viable self-sustaining captive populations of several hundred species of reptiles being maintained in the United States. Most pythons and many boa species now exist in captivity as viable ancillary populations. This has been accomplished through a decentralized, non-governmental, economically driven model of conservation. It is American private enterprise that has achieved this very impressive modern goal, not a penny of American taxpayer dollars has been spent in this endeavor.

    As the Subcommittee is aware, there is a scientific process underway at the US Fish & Wildlife Service which carefully evaluates the science prior to making an “injurious species” determination. I would note that one of the commitments of the current Administration was not to politicize the scientific process used to make some of these policy decisions. I ask that this Committee do the same. USARK is fully aware of the criticism that the Fish and Wildlife Service injurious species process takes too long and thus members of Congress are now being pushed into overriding this scientific process for the sake of political expediency. This is wrong. This was wrong when it was attempted before for other species, and it is wrong today. Ironically though, many of the groups backing HR 2811 have had decided to suspend their policy in order to fit their agendas on this issue. It is important to note that, historically, these same groups feverously have opposed other legislative and regulatory efforts that favored political policy over scientific fact.

    I ask that the Subcommittee note and consider state-level legislation that is now in place in all but eight U.S. States. For example, last year legislation was passed in NC with the support of the NC Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation to regulate the ownership and use of large constricting snakes. Similar legislation exists in the states of Texas and Florida, for reference. These measures insure that safe, secure, professional best management practices are observed to legally work with these animals. USARK is also currently working in VA and SC to introduce similar legislation in 2010. These best management practices embodied in existing state legislation could easily be adapted to a national USARK accreditation process insuring uniformity and professionalism across the country.

    In conclusion, many of these species we are discussing today have been captive bred in this country for over thirty years and have demonstrated no evidence of invasiveness. It is our hope that this Subcommittee will choose to take a more measured approach than is set forth in HR 2811. USARK is committed to safe reptile ownership and welcomes the opportunity to work with Congress to that end.

    Again thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee. I am happy to answer any questions you may have

  • #2
    Re: python/boa ban update

    Here is some information I suggest everyone read. This will help assist us
    with knowledge and ammunition for any letters that may need writing


    Here is an excellent paper written by Dave & Tracy Barker about the so called
    Florida and American Python problem.

    This paper addresses the issue fully and completely

    Read the below PDF Doc it covers S 373 thus also HR 2811

    Click on Linked Red text

    On Burmese Pythons in the Everglades

    David G. Barker and Tracy M. Barker

    ________---------------_____________----------------------_______

    Excerpt from the paper


    Is the Burmese python an invasive species?
    No. We have it on presidential authority that the Burmese
    python in Florida is not an invasive species. They
    can be correctly identified as an “exotic species,” or an
    “established exotic,” a “non-native species,” or even an
    “alien species.” They are not by legal definition an invasive
    species.
    Presidential Order 13112, signed into law by President
    Bill Clinton on February 3, 1999, and titled Invasive
    Species, provides the following definition [Section 1 (f)]:
    “invasive species means an alien species whose introduction
    does or is likely to cause economic or environmental
    harm, or harm to human health.”

    Lar M
    Boas By Klevitz

    sigpic

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: python/boa ban update

      Thanks for the update Chris! I am writing some letters now.
      http://www.iherp.com/topshelfmorphs

      http://www.facebook.com/boidsohio

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: python/boa ban update

        Bump this up to the top keep it in erveryones mind !
        Lets get the word out to each of our congressional Reps

        Lar M
        Boas By Klevitz

        sigpic

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: python/boa ban update

          I will be posting this to the USARK forms as soon as my registration over there is accepted. ...I should have registered over there when I became a member... d'oh!


          I've been thinking about this, and if this goes to the House floor for a vote then what we need is a major strike against the USGS report on the part of USARK and PIJAC, as well as a major grass roots movement.

          ...So, how do we do this? Well, since the supporters of HR2811 are waving the USGS's report as gospel we need (as MSwift suggested) a report of our own. But it has to have USARK's and/or PIJAC's name on it, or another large herpeteculture/herpetological name. The name is what will add weight to it. The House isn't going to take a report seriously unless it has a large reputable name backing it. Think the USGS’s report would have been accepted if it had been “Walter Emanuel’s Python Report?” …No. The USARK report needs to be big, well presented, and it needs to have lots of pretty pictures and diagrams. I know that sounds shallow, and condescending, but it’s not. We need to play the kind of ball the USGS and HSUS are playing. They set-up the playing field so we need to take their ball and run with it. They have a big heavy report with color diagrams then that’s exactly what we need. Remember, we are dealing with people who don’t know the first thing about reptiles, so handing them a hefty report with lots of scientific documentation and colorful diagrams is exactly what they need to better understand our hobby and see that the USGS report is worthless. A well thought out argument is great, but without something tangible to back it up, and to counter the USGS report, we are sunk. This is just basic politics and logic. I know it sounds like we need to pander to the lowest common denominator but we need to play the USGS and HSUS’s kind of ball if we are going to come out on top. ...And just having a report isn't enough. If the USGS report is 300 pages ours needs to be 310. If the supporters of HR2811 present 8 witnesses to testify in favor we need to present 10 that are against. ...We had 2 witnesses to their 5, no hard copy findings to back our position, and a weak response from the grass roots portion of the campaign - no wonder this wasn't killed in subcommittee. With tactics like this we are bound to loose our rights and hobby one species at a time. And it's not like we don't have all of the resources available to pull this together - we have people in the herp community who've been breeding boas and pythons for decades. USARK and PIJAC have connections deep in the herpeteculture community - connections we really need to pull from if we are going to beat this... connections we cannot afford not to pull from. There is no reason why a huge report discrediting the USGS' report can't be written. ...Actually this begs the question: "Why hasn't one already been written?" USARK and PIJAC should have been doing this the moment the USGS released their's. Because of the lack of initiative to create a counter report, and pool together a vast wall of witnesses to stand against HR2811 I can’t help but feel that USARK and PIJAC weren’t ready for this fight. I stand with USARK and PIJAC as a member of both organizations, and I am thankful for everything that both organizations do and stand up for, and I’m willing to fight tooth and nail at their side in opposition of HR2811, but if we don’t get our heads about us and offer an effective counter argument in the form of a massive report, vast number of witnesses, and a sea of grass roots participation we might as all just walk away from this hobby that we love and cherish.

          All of that said, we need to keep our eye on the ball and stay focused on the issues at hand: the USGS and HSUS are stating that this is an environmental issue. This is where we need to draw the line in the sand and fight. Not about different topics, or matters not addressed in the USGS report. Yes, it's inportant to mention the effect this will have on the economy, and the potential for large-scale unemployment, but that can't be the sole focus. We need to show why this is not an environmental issue, why the USGS findings are false, and not founded in good science - and stick to that. The more we deviate from that the more we stand to loose our sanding in the arguments. Wyatt's argument at the Friday hearing was well thought out and well written, but at no time was HR2811 being touted as an economic matter by those supporting it. As a result I feel Watt's argument did not offer the kind of support we needed. Unfortunately I fell that it looked more like he was dancing around the focus of HR2811. ...Perhaps if we had 3 or 4 more witnesses to speak on our behalf and focusing on how this is not the environmental crisis the USGS is claiming then Wyatt's argument could have worked as planned. ...but as one of two arguments it did little to address what the subcommittee was looking at in the report. It sounded tangential and like an avoidance tactic.

          I appreciate what USARK does for us, but we really need to focus on staying on target and meeting those who support HR2811 head to head, and not offering oranges to their apples. We also need a much larger and unified grass roots action when this goes to the House floor. As much as USARK needs to do to try and prevent this we need to do our part by calling, faxing, emailing, and writing letters to our local representatives as well as others. Something that needs to start right now! We cannot wait until three days before this hits the House. We need to use every day that we have from now until then (when ever “then” may be). I feel that USARK needs to re-evaluate their approach and create a massive report discrediting the USGS “findings.” USARK needs to stay focused, tenacious, and think in larger terms than I feel they have been. And we as members of USARK – as well as those who are not but oppose HR2811 – we need to ramp up our approach and start taking action this very minute, because I honestly believe that every day that goes by where nothing is done the more of a chance we have of loosing our hobby and eventually our animals.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: python/boa ban update

            Originally posted by MLynch View Post
            I will be posting this to the USARK forms as soon as my registration over there is accepted. ...I should have registered over there when I became a member... d'oh!


            I've been thinking about this, and if this goes to the House floor for a vote then what we need is a major strike against the USGS report on the part of USARK and PIJAC, as well as a major grass roots movement.

            ...So, how do we do this? Well, since the supporters of HR2811 are waving the USGS's report as gospel we need (as MSwift suggested) a report of our own. But it has to have USARK's and/or PIJAC's name on it, or another large herpeteculture/herpetological name. The name is what will add weight to it. The House isn't going to take a report seriously unless it has a large reputable name backing it. Think the USGS’s report would have been accepted if it had been “Walter Emanuel’s Python Report?” …No. The USARK report needs to be big, well presented, and it needs to have lots of pretty pictures and diagrams. I know that sounds shallow, and condescending, but it’s not. We need to play the kind of ball the USGS and HSUS are playing. They set-up the playing field so we need to take their ball and run with it. They have a big heavy report with color diagrams then that’s exactly what we need. Remember, we are dealing with people who don’t know the first thing about reptiles, so handing them a hefty report with lots of scientific documentation and colorful diagrams is exactly what they need to better understand our hobby and see that the USGS report is worthless. A well thought out argument is great, but without something tangible to back it up, and to counter the USGS report, we are sunk. This is just basic politics and logic. I know it sounds like we need to pander to the lowest common denominator but we need to play the USGS and HSUS’s kind of ball if we are going to come out on top. ...And just having a report isn't enough. If the USGS report is 300 pages ours needs to be 310. If the supporters of HR2811 present 8 witnesses to testify in favor we need to present 10 that are against. ...We had 2 witnesses to their 5, no hard copy findings to back our position, and a weak response from the grass roots portion of the campaign - no wonder this wasn't killed in subcommittee. With tactics like this we are bound to loose our rights and hobby one species at a time. And it's not like we don't have all of the resources available to pull this together - we have people in the herp community who've been breeding boas and pythons for decades. USARK and PIJAC have connections deep in the herpeteculture community - connections we really need to pull from if we are going to beat this... connections we cannot afford not to pull from. There is no reason why a huge report discrediting the USGS' report can't be written. ...Actually this begs the question: "Why hasn't one already been written?" USARK and PIJAC should have been doing this the moment the USGS released their's. Because of the lack of initiative to create a counter report, and pool together a vast wall of witnesses to stand against HR2811 I can’t help but feel that USARK and PIJAC weren’t ready for this fight. I stand with USARK and PIJAC as a member of both organizations, and I am thankful for everything that both organizations do and stand up for, and I’m willing to fight tooth and nail at their side in opposition of HR2811, but if we don’t get our heads about us and offer an effective counter argument in the form of a massive report, vast number of witnesses, and a sea of grass roots participation we might as all just walk away from this hobby that we love and cherish.

            All of that said, we need to keep our eye on the ball and stay focused on the issues at hand: the USGS and HSUS are stating that this is an environmental issue. This is where we need to draw the line in the sand and fight. Not about different topics, or matters not addressed in the USGS report. Yes, it's inportant to mention the effect this will have on the economy, and the potential for large-scale unemployment, but that can't be the sole focus. We need to show why this is not an environmental issue, why the USGS findings are false, and not founded in good science - and stick to that. The more we deviate from that the more we stand to loose our sanding in the arguments. Wyatt's argument at the Friday hearing was well thought out and well written, but at no time was HR2811 being touted as an economic matter by those supporting it. As a result I feel Watt's argument did not offer the kind of support we needed. Unfortunately I fell that it looked more like he was dancing around the focus of HR2811. ...Perhaps if we had 3 or 4 more witnesses to speak on our behalf and focusing on how this is not the environmental crisis the USGS is claiming then Wyatt's argument could have worked as planned. ...but as one of two arguments it did little to address what the subcommittee was looking at in the report. It sounded tangential and like an avoidance tactic.

            I appreciate what USARK does for us, but we really need to focus on staying on target and meeting those who support HR2811 head to head, and not offering oranges to their apples. We also need a much larger and unified grass roots action when this goes to the House floor. As much as USARK needs to do to try and prevent this we need to do our part by calling, faxing, emailing, and writing letters to our local representatives as well as others. Something that needs to start right now! We cannot wait until three days before this hits the House. We need to use every day that we have from now until then (when ever “then” may be). I feel that USARK needs to re-evaluate their approach and create a massive report discrediting the USGS “findings.” USARK needs to stay focused, tenacious, and think in larger terms than I feel they have been. And we as members of USARK – as well as those who are not but oppose HR2811 – we need to ramp up our approach and start taking action this very minute, because I honestly believe that every day that goes by where nothing is done the more of a chance we have of loosing our hobby and eventually our animals.
            This is why I suggested everyone read this report because that is exactly
            what this report disputes it disputes and USGS report and the people who wrote it.
            Plus it disputes " S 373 // HR 2811 "

            On Burmese Pythons in the Everglades

            It points out that people like Skip Snow, Rodda, HSUS are behind this
            Python legislation and all that goes with it because they make a living
            As "invasive species removal experts" etc..
            These people have paid for their houses and their kids education on the
            backs of Taxed based Funding of ecological invasive studies programs
            and other tax funded programs that keep them working
            in nice climates for a long time !

            Lar M
            Boas By Klevitz

            sigpic

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: python/boa ban update

              Bump it up!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: python/boa ban update

                Lets keep this on the forefront so we don't get

                out of sight out of mind syndrome

                Lar M
                Boas By Klevitz

                sigpic

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: python/boa ban update

                  Bump it up...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: python/boa ban update

                    think this is gonna go away w/o you having to do anything?

                    it's not.

                    Comment

                    Working...
                    X