By Erika N. Chen-Walsh
May 22, 2013. For over twenty years, it has been illegal in this state to own a constrictor 15′ in length or longer. Today, the Illinois General Assembly failed to pass SB 2362 (the “Herptile Code”) which would have lifted the ban on constrictors over 15′ in length and eased restrictions on venomous snakes. In addition, the Herptile Code would have removed all reptiles and amphibians from the Illinois Dangerous Animals Act.
The Herptile Code is the brainchild of Scott Ballard, Heritage Biologist and Herpetologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Ballard wrote the Herptile Code with significant input and feedback from the reptile community over the past year, including Rob Carmichael, Brian Potter, Erika Chen-Walsh, and many, many others within the reptile community.
Although the Herptile Code swept through the Senate with a unanimous vote of 54 in favor, it encountered some resistance in the House. HSUS opposed the Herptile Code at both Senate and House Committee hearings and issued an action alert opposing SB 2362. In addition, multiple Illinois Republican representatives informed us that they had received emails from an individual in the pet industry raising objections to the Herptile Code. The House voted today 38 in favor and 78 opposed. The bill is now dead.
Andrew Wyatt and Erika Chen-Walsh sent 118 faxes and Michael Stevens hand delivered 298 hard copy letters written by Herp Alliance to Illinois legislators in support of the Herptile Code. Wyatt and Chen-Walsh made nearly 100 phone calls and we spent the day in Springfield, speaking directly to Republican legislators opposing SB 2362 on May 14th.
The Herptile Code was the first bill from 2013 that would have provided a tangible improvement to reptile legislation. Unfortunately, amid opposition from the powerful animal rights industry and the pet industry, the House did not carry the votes.