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.

6 thoughts on “Herp Alliance Comments on Federal Boa & Python Ban: Did you?”

  1. The Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) is native to the jungles and grassy marshlands of southeast Asia where it is currently listed as a threatened species due to poaching. The lowest average temperature in it’s native range during the winter months does not drop below 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The average temperature for the Florida Everglades coldest month is 58 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2010 a study was conducted to examine survivorship, thermal biology, and behavior of Burmese pythons from South Florida in a semi-natural enclosure in South Carolina. According to Michael E. Dorcas “All pythons acclimated to the enclosure, but most died after failing to seek appropriate refugia during sub-freezing weather. The remaining snakes used refugia but died” Another peer reviewed study published in 2008 by R. Alexander Pyron produced a map incorporating both climatic extremes and averages which projected that the Burmese python’s range is limited to Southern Florida. “The Burmese python is strongly limited to the small area of suitable environmental conditions in the United States it currently inhabits due to the ecological niche preferences of the snake. The ability of the Burmese python to expand further into the U.S. is severely limited by ecological constraints. Global warming is predicted to significantly reduce the area of suitable habitat worldwide, underscoring the potential negative effects of climate change for many species.” Simply put constrictors are not biologically suited to survive beyond southernmost Florida. An established, wild population has existed since 1992 after hurricane Andrew was declared responsible for the release of these snakes from an exotic pet dealer’s warehouse. That was 22 years ago, surely if migration for these animals was plausible it would have shown itself evident in the last 22 years. Furthermore, under alternative 4 as written by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service it states “Listing these large constrictor snakes as injurious would decrease the risk of introduction by potentially decreasing the number of snakes in the market place. This analysis has not dealt with the potential impacts associated with preventing new populations of constrictor snakes. Calculating exact impacts for such a scenario is beyond the scope of this analysis. In addition, this analysis has not incorporated the probability of released or escaped pets because the probability is unknown. In general, listing should decrease the probability of unintentional introduction compared to Alternative 1 (No Action Alternative).” I am not OK with having my rights as a responsible pet owner stolen from me on the bases of “potentially”, “beyond our scope”, “has not incorporated” and “probability unknown” which are all phrases you will see throughout the entirety of the report. There is no valid scientific evidence to support the listings. Tracking number 1jy-8dda-qa5q

  2. These rulings are simply unnecessary and are farce. They simply ban interstate travel, thats really not going to do anything. This will incriminate slme keepers desperate not to give up their beloved pets, but who is really enforcing? I havent heard of one person getting caught, and i live in the smallest state in the US, borders are easy to cross here. This is really not thought through properly and all of it seems rushed and supported due to irrational fear.

  3. Dear Sirs,
    I am writing you in hopes that my opinions will be understood and not disregarded lightly. I oppose the Federal ban on any captive bred snake species. I understand that owning and caring for snakes is not your cup of tea, but for millions of Americans they are our passion. While I do not own any of the species that are currently up for enlistment in the Lacey Act, I understand the appeal of owning them. Some have great temperaments and amazing aesthetic qualities, and with proper husbandry, they can flourish in captivity. Furthermore there is no credible evidence that any of the species can become established in wild populations anywhere in the USA. I am left wondering why then these species are being listed as injurious. The only thought I can come up with that makes sense is that the average layperson is frightened by large snakes. They have no basis for the fear itself, but the fear is indeed tangible. Is this a reason to make the interstate transfer of these species (essentially the demise of a global marketplace) illegal? We as a nation have feared other things in the past, and have made terrible decisions due to our fear (Massacring millions of Native Americans, segregating freed blacks from the rest of society, Prohibition just to name a few examples.) President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He could not have been more correct, and I fear the fear mongering that is currently happening in politics regarding the keeping of captive reptiles. Owning reptiles has caused fewer deaths in the United States compared to any other conventional pet ownership. To show how ridiculous any ban on captive reptile ownership is, look into how more people are killed by vending machines than they are by reptiles in the United States.
    In conclusion I must state that as an American, I am against any ridiculous or frivolous laws that restrict or inhibit my basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    Best Regards,
    Andrew Michael Heffker
    Lacombe, Louisiana

  4. Hi Andrew – I did comment before the deadline but just got around to reading yours. You did a fantastic job in summarizing why these regulations are not only unneeded but are examples of government at its worst. Thank you for your efforts, both past and future.

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