PIJAC Hires Animal Rights Fat Cat as CEO

Ed Sayres, who resigned his 10 year tenure as president and CEO of the ASPCA in June 2012.

Ed Sayres, who resigned his 10 year tenure as president and CEO of the ASPCA in June 2012.  Sayres has spent 40 years as a career animal rights activist.

In a shocking development this week, PIJAC announced today that it had hired as its president and CEO, Ed Sayres, a man who has made his 40-year career in the animal rights industry, including a decade as the president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The ASPCA has a written policy against exotic animal ownership, including all reptiles and amphibians.

In fact, ASPCA’s web site states that ownership of reptiles, even corn snakes, leopard geckos and dart frogs is, “bad for the animals, bad for us and bad for the environment.”

In recent years, there has been a split in the reptile community about PIJAC and PIJAC’s intentions.  However, certain members of the industry have encouraged the reptile community to cozy up to PIJAC.  PIJAC has raked in tens of thousands of donation and auction dollars from individual donors, NARBC auctions, and Ship Your Reptiles’ donation program.  In March 2013,  USARK announced that:

“USARK has established an open line of communication with PIJAC in 2013. The PIJAC Board of Directors voted unanimously to provide USARK an honorary membership. USARK looks forward to a working relationship with PIJAC, who has been protecting the pet industry over 40 years.”

As of today, Phil Goss and USARK are “Association Representatives” of PIJAC.  Reptile insider, John Mack, sits on the PIJAC board of directors.

In the wake of PIJAC’s announcement today, some industry members have sought to distance themselves from PIJAC.  NARBC announced that it will now be donating all of its auction proceeds to USARK (who, at this time, is still in bed with PIJAC).  Presumably, USARK will also eventually break its ties to PIJAC, but that remains to be seen.

aspca quote on reptilesNonetheless, the damage is done.  PIJAC has entrenched itself for years with the reptile community and several industry leaders have served on the controversial PIJAC Herp Committee, which has discussed, among other things, the reptile community’s greatest vulnerability:  the regulation of feeder rodents. In fact, the PIJAC Herp Committee published its PIJAC Herp Community Feeder Rodent Best Management Practices  in September 2013.

All the sensitive information collected in those PIJAC Herp Committee meetings is now at the disposal of Sayres, who for the last decade has spearheaded an animal rights organization with a written policy against the keeping of any reptile or amphibian.

And the acquisition of Sayres did not likely come cheaply.  According to the New York Times,

Several [ASPCA] board members had voiced misgivings about his $566,064 salary, more than double that of Wayne Pacelle, his counterpart at the Humane Society of the United States.

Bernstein, J. June 28, 2013.  Angst at the A.S.P.C.A., New York Times.

In addition to his fat cat salary, Sayres’ actions at ASPCA raised a number of eyebrows regarding financial improprieties, including the $9.3M payout to Feld Entertainment for a lawsuit alleging mistreatment of elephants when it was discovered that ASPCA’s key witness was receiving monies from the other animal rights groups that had joined the suit, including HSUS.

The ASPCA board treasurer, James W. Gerard, was reported to have been livid over a $775,000 payment made to a consultant that netted just $14,000 for a dog cause, which Gerard called, ““a failure of management disclosure to the board . . .As stewards of private donors’ monies, I felt it was an inappropriate expenditure.”  Ibid.

Ed Sayres, a career animal rights activist who has lined his pockets with a salary in excess of a half a million dollars, a man who left ASPCA amid questions regarding financial improprieties, and a man who opposes all exotic animal ownership, including reptiles and amphibians, this is who PIJAC has chosen as its new leader, and a leader that the reptile industry, through its auctions and donations has helped to fund.

NO PIJACToday on Facebook, some members of the reptile community were suggesting a “wait and see” approach, likening the Sayres appointment to a BlackOps mission.  Rest assured, Sayres is not a double agent for the reptile community, or even the animal community at large.  If this is like a BlackOps mission, it is the opposite:  the coup is that the animal rights industry just took over PIJAC.

We hope that USARK will join the rest of the reptile community in boycotting PIJAC.

Herp Alliance Comments on Federal Boa & Python Ban: Did you?

US Fish & Wildlife Seeks to Add Five Snakes to Injurious List

US Fish & Wildlife Seeks to Add Five Snakes to Injurious List

Will 5 More Constricting Snakes be Added
to the Injurious Wildlife List?

The US Herpetoculture Alliance alerted the reptile community back in May that US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) planned to re-open the public comment period regarding the “Constrictor Rule.” On June 23rd FWS officially announced the re-opening of a 30 day public comment period as expected; deadline of July 24th at 11:59pm EDT. Herp Alliance filed detailed public comments prior to the deadline. Did you make public comment? Please share your official comment in our comment section below.

In January 2012 FWS published a rule in the Federal Register that added the Burmese python, Indian python, northern and southern African pythons, and the yellow anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. The Constrictor Rule added 5 of the 10 snakes originally proposed for listing, however five remaining snakes (Boa constrictor, reticulated python,  green anaconda, DeShauensee’s anaconda and Beni anaconda) were not listed at that time, but remained “under consideration.”

Although the reopening of public comment was welcome news and an additional opportunity to provide critical information for the public record, the Herp Alliance believes this action is a clear signal that FWS is prepared to finalize the Constrictor Rule that was finalized in part on January 23, 2012 (77 FR 3330)– adding some or all of the remaining five species of constricting snakes to the Injurious List. Any species listed on the Injurious List cannot be imported into the country nor transported across state lines without a special permit from FWS.

The US Herpetoculture Alliance filed detailed public comment with FWS opposing the proposed rule to add the remaining five species to the Injurious list. We urge you to read them. Our argument focused on the “best available economic and scientific data” and pointed out the egregious flaws in the FWS justification for rule making. Some of the points included:

  1. Major Rule
  2. Scientific Underpinnings
  3. Best Available Science
  4. Arbitrary and Capricious
  5. Conclusions

Additionally, Herp Alliance worked with the best and the brightest in the scientific and legal community coordinating many high quality comments. Please read our public comment and post your thoughts below in our comment section. If you made public comment with FWS, please SHARE with us and please include the tracking number assigned to you.

Herp Alliance tracking number: 1jy-8der-hvz9

Read the US Herpetoculture Alliance Official Public Comments here.

Governor Quinn Signs the Herptiles-Herps Act!

illinois capitolBREAKING NEWS!!!

Today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed SB 902, the Illinois Herptiles-Herps Act, into law.  Effective January 1, 2015, Illinois will have an historic law in effect and will be the only state in the US with a code section devoted exclusively to reptiles and amphibians.

SB 902 will lift the current ban on keeping of large constrictors and improves existing law with respect to the keeping of venomous snakes.  Most importantly, it removes reptiles completely from the Illinois Dangerous Animals Act.

Special thanks to Scott Ballard, Natural Heritage Biologist/Herpetologist, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, who drafted and edited this bill over many years and who sought and considered extensive feedback from the reptile community in Illinois.

Governor Quinn Takes Bill Action Wednesday, July 16, 2014.

Full Text of SB 902.

 

HR 2158 “Snakes on a Plane” Goes to Markup

OperatingAirlinesHeader_tcm14-4317The US Herpetoculture Alliance has learned that, HR 2158: Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act, dubbed the “snakes on a plane” act will go to a markup hearing tomorrow, July 16th, before the full US House Natural Resources Committee. Congressman John Fleming (R-LA), Chair of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, is the sponsor.

HR 2158 would allow for greater flexibility in the export of Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus), Indian pythons (Python molurus molurus), Northern African pythons (Python sebae), Southern African pythons (Python natalensis) and Yellow anacondas (Eunectes notaeus) out of the United States.

Currently export may occur only through designated ports as defined by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  When an aircraft departs with export from one of these ports, it may not land within the United States.

HR 2158 would continue to allow for export from 17 designated ports. In addition, it would allow such carriers to make  intermediate stops in other states prior to final departure within a 48 hour time period as long as secure containment protocols are maintained.  HR 2158 does NOT address interstate transport.

Herp Alliance expects that HR 2158 will be marked up and reported out of the US House Natural Resources Committee tomorrow. Whether this bill has the momentum to move further than this remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for updates and analysis from the Herp Alliance.

FWS To Finalize Python Ban: Public Comment Reopens Tomorrow!

The US Herpetoculture Alliance has just learned that the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) will reopen public comment on the “Constrictor Rule” tomorrow. The FWS has announced that public comment will be reopened for 30 days. Further, FWS has decided to reopen the public comment period, but only for the five remaining species that were NOT listed in 2012. The Herp Alliance expects to see FWS publish this announcement in the Federal Register on June 24, 2014.

This action was announced by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) last month, but when reported on by Herp Alliance, was discounted by those with poor access to information in Washington DC as “fear mongering.” Our information is always the most accurate and timely available regarding the future of herpetoculture.

Although reopening public comment is positive news, the Herp Alliance believes this action to be a clear signal that FWS is prepared to finalize the Constrictor Rule that was finalized in part on January 23, 2012 (77 FR 3330)– adding 4 species of constricting snakes to the In jurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. Any species listed on the Injurious List cannot be imported into the country nor transported across state lines without a special permit from FWS.

In January 2012 FWS published a rule in the Federal Register that added the Burmese python, northern African python, southern African python and yellow anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. The Constrictor Rule accounted for 4 of the 9 snakes originally proposed for listing. The remaining 5 snakes, Boa constrictor, reticulated python,  green anaconda, DeShauensee’s anaconda and Beni anaconda were not listed at that time, but remained “under consideration.”

FWS is likely hoping to add information to support their case to list the 5 remaining snakes.  It is imperative that the Reptile Nation respond with quality comments to counter their case. Time is of the essence. Hopefully the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) has been coaching it’s members in making quality comment, apprising members of the scientific community of the impending comment period, and updating economic surveys and profiles since the economic survey done in 2011. This is an unparalleled opportunity to influence the final disposition of the Constrictor Rule. The Reptile Nation cannot afford a misstep now.

Read Public Announcement Here

 

 

 

FWS to Re-open Public Comment on Boas and Pythons!

Boas, retics and green anacondas could be listed as Injurious under the Lacey Act.

Boas, retics and green anacondas could be listed as Injurious under the Lacey Act.

The US Herpetoculture Alliance has just learned that US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has given notice to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) that public comment on the Constrictor Rule will be re-opened. Although positive news, the Herp Alliance believes this action to be a clear signal that FWS is prepared to finalize the Constrictor Rule that was finalized in part on January 23, 2012 (77 FR 3330)– adding 4 species of constricting snakes to the In jurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. Any species listed on the Injurious List cannot be imported into the country nor transported across state lines without a special permit from FWS.

In January 2012 FWS published a rule in the Federal Register that added the Burmese python, northern African python, southern African python and yellow anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. The Constrictor Rule accounted for 4 of the 9 snakes originally proposed for listing. The remaining 5 snakes, Boa constrictor, reticulated python,  green anaconda, DeShauensee’s anaconda and Beni anaconda were not listed at that time, but remained “under consideration.”

FWS has now given formal notice to OIRA that is is prepared to move forward to finalize the rule adding Boas, Retics and 3 anacondas to the Injurious List. Although FWS has announced to OIRA that they will re-open public comment on the Constrictor Rule, they have not indicated when it will re-open, or for how long. Details will be published in the Federal Register. Herp Alliance expects it to be very soon.

Stay tuned to Herp Alliance for fast breaking updates, news and analysis.

Illinois Herptiles-Herps Act Goes to Governor Quinn

ILIllinois Senate Bill 902 (the Herptiles-Herps Act) took another step forward to becoming law today when the Senate voted to concur with House Amendment 1 by a vote of 51-1 .   The enrolled bill now goes to Governor Quinn.

SB 902 would remove all reptiles and amphibians from the Illinois Dangerous Animals Act and implement a new code section exclusively for them. It will lift the current ban on constrictors over 15′ and will ease restrictions on certain venomous animals.

Herp Alliance’s Committee Testimony in favor of SB 902 can be viewed here:
http://usherp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ENW-Testimony-in-favor-of-SB-902.pdf

Congratulations, Illinois, on moving another step forward toward passing an historic law!

Please contact Governor Pat Quinn to voice your support:
217.782.0244 or 312.814.2121

Illinois SB902 PASSES COMMITTEE!!!

ILIllinois SB 902 passed out of Committee today 17-0!!

Thank you to all who called, emailed, faxed and wrote in support of SB 902.  It will now go to a floor vote of the Illinois House of Representatives.  PLEASE contact your state representatives and let them know that you SUPPORT IL SB 902.

A complete list of the Illinois House members with their contact information can be found here.

SB 902 will be the first ever legislative code that pertains exclusively to reptiles and amphibians in this country!

 

 

IL HB 5940 Fact Sheet

FAIL HSUSHB 5940 was drafted by HSUS and is the legislative contact for HB 5940.  HSUS’s lobbyist is the person working on the forthcoming amendment to HB 5940.  Herp Alliance verified this directly from HSUS’s lobbyist today.

Unless you believe that special interest organizations representing extreme animal rights organizations should be supplanting state legislators elected by Illinois residents, you should OPPOSE HB 5940.

  • Introduced in the House on 2/14/14 by Representative Michael Zalewski (D).
  • HB 5940 passed the Illinois House on 4/10/14 on a vote of 79 in favor and 22 opposed.
  • HB 5940 was conceptualized, drafted and shopped by HSUS.
  • HSUS has a high paid lobbyist John Kamis of Carpenter Lipps and Leland LLP shepherding this bill through the legislature.
  • HB 5940 is sponsored in the Illinois Senate by power broker Senator Kwame Raoul, a member of the powerful Illinois Democratic machine.
  • According to Senator Raoul’s office, HB 5940 will pass the Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee on 5/13/14, after which time, an amendment will be introduced that is being drafted currently by HSUS lobbyist, John Kamis.
  • Herp Alliance has spoken directly to John Kamis who has indicated that HSUS is calling the shots on the bill, which is intended to grandfather in existing animals but to preclude the future acquisition of restricted animals unless specifically exempted.
  • Current Illinois Law (720 ILCS 5/48-10) exempts USDA Class C licensees.  The current version of the bill removes the exemption and restricts ownership of specified “dangerous animals” unless the licensee is also an AZA accredited zoo.  (HSUS is working on an amendment right now that will not be prepared in time for the committee hearing on 5/13/14).

Illinois Action Alert – OPPOSE IL HB 5940

1-Logos_Revised_2_BW-002Illinois House Bill 5940 is another bill that seeks to modify the Illinois Dangerous Animals Act.  HB 5940 was written by HSUS and is being shepherded through the legislature by HSUS’s paid lobbyist, Carpenter Lipps & Leland LLP.

HB 5940 goes before the Agriculture and Conservation Committee tomorrow, May 13, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

The full text of Amendment 2 to HB 5940 can be read here.  This is an HSUS ballot initiative and it seeks to impose more restrictions on owners of exotic animals, whose definition currently includes all “poisonous and life threatening reptiles.”

HSUS’s position on this initiative is so restrictive that they do not wish to include an exemption for the Zoological Association of America (as did Ohio and Maryland), one of two national accreditation organizations whose member institutions include Six Flags Wild Safari Animal Park (NJ), Orange County Zoo (CA), Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation (FL), Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (TX), and many others.

If SB 902 does not pass, HB 5940 will put further restrictions on “poisonous and life threatening reptiles,” which Illinois case law has defined to include certain large constrictors over 15′ in length.

The members of the Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee can be found here.  Please call, email and fax them TODAY to vote NO on HB 5940.

In the meantime, SB 902 goes before the Illinois House Agriculture & Conservation Committee tomorrow, May 13, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.  The members of that committee can be found here.  Please call, email and fax them TODAY to vote YES on SB 902.