All posts by AWyatt

Kansas Seeks to Ban Venomous Snakes: SB 132

Kansas SB 132 Seeks to Ban ALL Non-native Venomous Snakes
Kansas SB 132 Seeks to Ban ALL Non-native Venomous Snakes

The Kansas State Senate has just introduced Senate Bill 132, that if passed as written, would ban the possession of all non-native venomous snakes in the Sunflower State. SB 132 is an amendment to the existing “Dangerous Regulated Animals” law passed in 2005.

Specifically, SB 132 would amend the definition of “Dangerous Regulated Animal” and removed the grandfather clause that has protected the rights of qualified venomous snake owners to keep and breed their animals, to read:

“Dangerous regulated animal” means a live or slaughtered parts of:  (1) Lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs and mountain lions, or any hybrid thereof; (2) bears or any hybrid thereof; and (3) any nonhuman primate; (4) any wolf, excluding hybrids; and (5) all non-native, venomous snakes.

Nicole Paquette, Vice President of Wildlife Protection for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), wrote this piece of legislation when she worked as General Counsel for the animal rights group now known as Born Free USA. The law passed in Kansas in 2005, is the basis for HSUS’ model Dangerous Wild Animal (DWA) legislative proposal that is being touted as the recommendation of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Animal Law Committee. This is a powerful endorsement for HSUS, and is gaining much traction with legislators and animal law attorneys across the country. 

640px-American_Bar_Association.svgNow, armed with the ABA Animal Law Committee recommendations, it appears a new pattern is emerging in the HSUS legislative strategy to separate animals from their owners. Not only is HSUS targeting states that have not traditionally embraced their extreme ideology, but Paquette and her legislative team are visiting states where dangerous animal legislation has succeeded in the past, and are attempting to make these laws even more restrictive. 

Some have argued that the ABA Animal Law Committee recommendations are somehow unimportant because they have not been fully adopted by the ABA House of Delegates. The US Herpetoculture Alliance cannot emphasize strongly enough that this position is naive and dangerous. HSUS is using these recommendations as a tool right now. Explaining to a legislator, after the fact, the nuances of whether the recommendations have been adopted by the full body is a subtly that will be lost on most lawmakers. HSUS’ model legislation is the recommendation of the ABA Animal Law Committee. That is more than enough for most politicians.

Look to see this pattern of returning to states with DWA legislation already on the books to add further restrictions continuing in 2015. Legislative season is just getting under way. Stay tuned to Herp Alliance for the best news and analysis in herpetoculure.

 

NC Reptile Ban: HSUS Dangerous Wild Animals

Reptile Ban: HSUS to Introduce DWA Legislation to NC in 2015

The Carolina Tiger Rescue (CTR) announced on their web site that, “Carolina Tiger [Rescue] will join the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in introducing legislation banning the private individual ownership of wild cats in NC.” However, this legislation may cover more than big cats. The HSUS model Dangerous Wild Animal (DWA) legislation, for which they received the stamp of approval from the American Bar Association (ABA) Animal Law Committee in 2014, includes large constrictors (even boa constrictors) and venomous snakes.

The CTR is formerly the Carnivore Preservation Trust (CPT) whose image was tarnished in 2007 when then CPT board member Lorraine Smith was fired after engaging in illegal lobbying activities as the Curator of Mammals for the NC Zoo in Asheboro. CPT has since changed their name to CTR in an effort to reinvent themselves in the mold of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida.

Smith lobbied door-to-door in the legislature with Nicole Paquette, then Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Born Free USA, advocating for the dangerous animal bill Paquette wrote. The NC Zoo is an agency of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources. State employees are not allowed by law to lobby the legislature. Smith was subsequently fired.

Nicole Paquette is The HSUS's Vice President of Wildlife Protection.  Photo: Pete Marovich/For The HSUS
Nicole Paquette is The HSUS’s Vice President of Wildlife Protection.
Photo: Pete Marovich/For The HSUS

Interestingly, Paquette now works for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) as the Vice President of Wildlife Protection, and the bill she wrote for NC in 2005 has evolved into HSUS’s model DWA legislation endorsed by the ABA Animal Law Committee. If HSUS plans on introducing their model DWA legislation, it will include reptiles.

As of today, the HSUS DWA bill has not been introduced in NC. We don’t know yet who the sponsor will be or what the precise language of the bill will be. The North Carolina 2015 Legislative session just began last week and will run through the end of June. We expect that this bill will be introduced relatively soon.

… and so it begins. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

It is likely that in 2015 HSUS will seek to capitalize on the endorsement of their DWA legislation by the ABA Animal Law Committee by pushing for an aggressive state level campaign to install their model as law in as many states as possible. Stay tuned to Herp Alliance for the most accurate news and analysis in herpetoculture.


“In the Summer of 2014 the sins of HSUS hit home with a vengeance when HSUS, Born Free USA and other co-defendants agreed to pay $15.75 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed against them by Feld Entertainment under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. As a result, the charity watchdog group, Charity Navigator, revoked HSUS’ mediocre 3-star rating and issued a “Donor Advisory” warning. Charity Navigator issued the warning soon after news of the HSUS settlement made the news. The animal rights behemoth lost its insurance coverage in 2010 likely putting donors on the hook for HSUS’ legal misadventures.” ~ The Last Word, November 6, 2014

Pythons, Politics, Rumor & Controversy: Clarification on the Constrictor Rule

The Thanksgiving notification given to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) by US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) that there would be another step toward the finalization of the Constrictor Rule in early 2014 has turned the herpetoculture industry on its ear. Confusion is rampant in the community. Accusations have been leveled as to responsibility, and the reptile and pet industry trade associations are scrambling trying to effect damage control. But the situation is not nearly as complicated as some would make it out to be.

11_Snakes
photo: USGS- Green Anaconda

At stake here is the trade in large constricting snakes that have been slated for addition to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. In 2011 FWS proposed a rule to add nine constricting snakes to the Injurious Species List. The trade in these nine species was estimated to be in excess of $100 million annually, potentially making the rule fall into the “major” rule classification which would mandate that the rule making process be rigorous and subject to information quality standards.

Subsequently, FWS published a partial rule in the Federal Register in January 2012; listing four of the proposed nine snakes on the injurious list, and holding the remaining five out as continuing to be “under consideration.” Since the rule was published USARK, PIJAC and US Herpetoculture Alliance have gone back and forth to Washington DC discussing further finalization of the ‘Constrictor Rule’ in order to remove the onus of the “under consideration” designation from the remaining five snakes that were not listed. The argument was this designation was tantamount to a de-facto listing and was destroying legal trade.

US Fish & Wildlife Service Seeks To Add More Snakes To Constrictor Rule

Fast forward to Monday, December 2, 2013. The US Herpetoculture Alliance was made aware that FWS had notified OIRA of it’s intention to finalize in full, or in part, the listing of the remaining five snakes still “under consideration” as a part of the ‘Constrictor Rule’. As reported, the notification abstract published last week indicated: “We are making a final determination on the listing of five species of large constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act: Reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, Beni anaconda, and boa constrictor. Four of the nine proposed species were listed in 77 FR 3330. This rule will determine the status of the remaining five species under the same RIN.” ~ US Fish & Wildlife Service, November 2013

In the wake of this discovery we began to further research the FWS/ OIRA records over the last year. We found an even more ominous notification from July 2013 that no one had ever reported on: “We are making a final determination to list four species of large constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act: Reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, and Beni anaconda. The boa constrictor is still under consideration for listing. Four of the nine proposed species were listed in 77 FR 3330. This rule will list four more under the same RIN. One more species will remain under consideration for listing under the same RIN.” ~ US Fish & Wildlife Service, July 2013

Both of these notices are part of the public record. They are not privileged information. They are available to anyone who looks for them. Neither notice is subject to interpretation. They are both the exact language used by FWS. Please follow the links and read them for yourself.

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” ~ Buddha

The reality is that this is not super secret national security stuff. It is all public record. No confidences have been breached. FWS has sent clear signals that they intend to finalize the ‘Constrictor Rule’ very soon; probably by February 2014. What is also very clear is that, according to their own notice, they will likely add reticulated pythons and the three remaining anacondas to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act; while continuing to leave boa constrictors “under consideration” for future listing.

photo: USGS- Boa Constrictor
photo: USGS- Boa Constrictor

The biggest question in our mind is whether FWS will actually stop short of listing boa constrictor. We think that they will not include boa constrictors in this action, but they can do whatever they want, and publish whatever they want. They are NOT restricted by the notices they have made a part of the public record. The Herp Alliance truly hopes that FWS will decide NOT to list any more snakes. We will not know for sure until FWS publishes the final rule in the Federal Register.

In 2012 the “rumor” circulating among Washington insiders was that only two snakes would actually get listed in the final rule. As you know four were listed. Today our best guess is that four of the remaining five will get listed; with reticulated pythons being added to the list and boas escaping for the time being. We sincerely hope it will not be all five that get listed. Our endeavor is to make the best information available to the herpetoculture community. We hope this clarifies some of the confusion.

FWS Taking Aggressive Action Against Reptiles

While you were enjoying a quiet Thanksgiving holiday with your family, US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) was taking aggressive action against reptiles and other animal interests.

FWS has notified the Office of Management & Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) that it will finalize the ‘Constrictor Rule’ adding more boas and pythons as injurious species, as well as propose two additional rules that will allow FWS to more easily administer the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act, and effect greater control over the import, export and interstate transport of reptiles and many other animals. The full ramifications of these three rules will not be clear until until they are published in the Federal Register likely in early 2014.

SONY DSCWhat is clear is that FWS seeks to add more constricting snakes to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. At risk are: Boa constrictor, reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, and Beni anaconda. This is in addition to the listing of four constricting snakes in 2012: Burmese python, northern and southern African pythons, and the yellow anaconda.

1)  RIN: 1018-AV68- Title: Injurious Wildlife Evaluation; Constrictor Species From Python, Boa, and Eunectes Genera. We (FWS) are making a final determination on the listing of five species of large constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act: Reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, Beni anaconda, and boa constrictor.

Further, it is also clear that FWS seeks to increase their power and streamline the process to add other species to the injurious species list, while also increasing restrictions and fees on import, export and transportation of ALL wildlife.

2)  RIN: 1018-AX63- Title: Injurious Wildlife; Making Injurious Wildlife Determinations Under the Lacey Act. We (FWS) propose to revise our regulations for listing species as injurious in order to enhance the species screening process and enable more efficient and effective decisions that will help prevent the introduction and spread of injurious wildlife.

3)  RIN: 1018-AZ71- Title: Importation, Exportation, and Transportation of Wildlife. We (FWS) propose to rewrite a substantial portion of our regulations for importation, exportation, and transportation of wildlife. We (FWS) will propose changes to the port structure and inspection fees.

With the apparent unwillingness or possible inability of the reptile community to file a lawsuit challenging the shaky legal standing of the original ‘Constrictor Rule’ of 2012, FWS has become emboldened to press their advantage. Burmese pythons and three other constricting snakes were added to the Lacey Act under what some think to be an “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful” process conducted by FWS. Now FWS threatens to add five more snakes, including boa constrictor and reticulated python.

2014 promises to be a critical year for many in herpetoculture. From zoos and research facilities to commercial breeders and hobbyists, TV and film to pet owners, ALL will likely be negatively impacted by proposed rule changes to the Lacey Act.

Please share this with your friends and family. Join our mailing list, follow our blog, and follow the US Herpetoculture Alliance (Herp Alliance) on Facebook for the most timely and accurate news and analysis on all issues regarding herpetoculture.

 

FWS Seeks “Categorical Exclusion” to Expedite Injurious Listing

FWS Seeks Catagorical Exclusion for Injurious Wildlife
FWS Seeks Categorical Exclusion for Injurious Wildlife Listing

US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a notice on July 1, 2013 of a proposal to add a “categorical exclusion” under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the action of listing a species as “injurious wildlife” under the Lacey Act entitled:  National Environmental Policy Act:  Implementing Procedures; Addition to Categorical Exclusions for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

FWS Summary: This notice announces a proposed categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The proposed categorical exclusion pertains to adding species to the injurious wildlife list under the Lacey Act. FWS states that the addition of this categorical exclusion to the Department of the Interior’s Departmental Manual will improve conservation activities by making the NEPA process for listing injurious species more efficient.

US Herpetoculture Alliance: Our legal counsel is currently doing a thorough analysis of the proposed “categorical exclusion”, but we believe that this is an attempt to circumvent due process in order to more easily list reptiles, amphibians and other animals as “injurious species” under the Lacey Act.

US Herpetoculture Alliance The Future of Herpetoculture
US Herpetoculture Alliance
The Future of Herpetoculture

In recent years FWS has shown a clear bias toward avoiding due process in order to reach politically motivated goals. In this “brave new world” where FWS seems to manufacture “science” to support predetermined policy goals, the US Herpetoculture Alliance sees this move as a further corruption of the process to avoid assessing potential impacts on herpetoculture as a legitimate agricultural vocation.

This is a particularly disturbing development in light of the fact that FWS has made it clear that they hope to add more herpetofauna to the injurious list. As it stands the future of five constricting snakes and ALL amphibians stand in the balance. Prior to the 2012 rule making that added Burmese pythons, northern African pythons, southern African pythons and yellow anacondas there was no precedent for adding animals widely held by the American public. The fact that hundreds of thousands of animals are already being publicly held across the country negates the fundamental effectiveness of the Lacey Act to limit proliferation.

The Lacey Act’s stated policy intent was to stop the import of injurious species, and further stop proliferation across state lines. This function is rendered ineffectual once animals are widely held by the public. The Lacey Act is a monumental failure as a tool to control invasive species. It’s track record speaks for itself. The Lacey Act has NEVER been successful as a tool to stop the introduction of invasive species, nor erradicate them once they have been established. The US Herpetoculture Alliance believes alternatives to the Lacey Act are critical to the fair treatment of herpetofauna already well established in captivity.

The notice opens a 30-day public comment period ending on July 31 (please see Federal Register for instructions on submitting comments)

Here is the link:to the Federal Register document: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-07-01/pdf/2013-15707.pdf

Please stay tuned to the US Herpetoculture Alliance UPDATES for in depth analysis of this issue COMING SOON! The Herp Alliance is proud to keep the herpetoculture community informed and empowered as the premier herpetoculture advocate. Herp Alliance is the Future of Herpetoculture!

HR 2158: ‘‘Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act’’

UPDATE: H. R. 2158 (Fleming) goes to Hearing at US House Natural Resources Committee- To exempt from the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 the expedited removal from the United States of certain snake species, and for other purposes, “Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act.”

WHEN: Thursday, July 25, 2013 – 10:00 AM

WHERE: 1324 Hearing Room in the Longworth House Office Building

***See below for background:

HR 2158: The ‘‘Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act’’ was introduced into the US House of Representatives by Representative John Flemming (R-LA4) on May 23, 2013. It was assigned to the US House Committee on Natural Resources.

US_House_Seals_web1-234x300
HR 2158: ‘‘Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act’’

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.

The US Herpetoculture Alliance supports HR 2158, and thanks Representative Flemming for addressing this important issue, and while we believe this is an important issue, we do have concerns regarding the timing and strategy leading to the bill’s introduction.  With the questions of whether five additional species of constrictors will be added to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act, as well as challenges to the four constrictors that were added in 2012 to be considered this summer, the issue of international export and interstate transport may become confused in the minds of lawmakers.

The Herp Alliance expects that HR 2158 will be referred to the US House Natural Resources Sub-Committee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, of which Representative Flemming serves as Chairman. We believe there will be a hearing on the bill this Summer, possibly in the July time frame.  If passed, HR 2158 could allow breeders of Burmese pythons, African pythons and yellow anacondas an opportunity to engage in export outside of the US that is currently prohibited due to intermediate stops within the United States.

HR 2158 will NOT allow for interstate transport! It only allows an exemption for shipments to be exported outside of the United States.

RED ALERT: Reptile Shows in Nevada at Risk!

Take Action: Nevada AB 246

Please call the Nevada Senate Committee on Natural Resources TODAY and register NO on AB 246. It is scheduled for a vote TODAY at 1:30pm PDT. The US HA Logo REDHerpetoculture Alliance has offered an amendment to limit the definition of “swap meet” to include ONLY “outdoor” venues. Without this amendment ALL reptile shows in Nevada could be prohibited! At this juncture Herp Alliance has received no indication that this amendment will be accepted. Call the Senate Committee on Natural Resources today and register NO on AB 246. The deadline for the Committee to take action on AB 246 is tomorrow May 17, 2013. Today is the last Committee hearing prior to the deadline. If AB 246 doesn’t get voted on today the bill will be dead.

Sample Script: (be polite and professional)

Please vote NO on AB 246 “swap meet” bill. It gives an overly broad definition to the term “swap meet” and will cost the State of Nevada hundreds of thousands of dollars from the elimination of professional reptile trade shows held in the state. The definition should be limited to “outdoor” venues only. This will hurt tourism revenues coming into the State of Nevada.

Chair: Aaron D. Ford (D)- (Cell) 702-772-5544

Vice Chair: Mark A. Manendo (D)- 775-684-6503

Tick Segerblom (D)- (Wk) 775-684-1422
James A. Settelmeyer (R)- (Cell) 775-450-6114
Pete Goicoechea (R)- (Cell) 775-778-1620

USPS to Ease Shipping Restrictions on Live Animals

On April 24, 2013 the US Postal Service (USPS) published a ‘proposed rule’ in the federal register (fedreg#2013-09603) that seeks to ease restrictions on the shipment of live animals. The US Herpetoculture Alliance supports this US-Postal-Service-Logo1-e1324319649576proposed rule that will include provisions allowing shipment of many reptiles and amphibians. USPS will allow public comment for 30 days. The deadline for public comment is May 24, 2013. Please follow the link provided and make your public comment today!

Animal Rights organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) are vehemently opposed to this measure. They are already activating their constituents to make public comment in opposition to this proposed rule. It is very important that USPS get support from the Herpetoculture Nation on this common sense approach to allow increased live animal shipping. Support the USPS ‘Shipping Rule!’

According to Greenwire, “The proposed shipping changes come at a time when the Postal Service is looking to revamp its business model and bracing for a drag on its revenue as other parts of the federal government absorb sequestration cuts. Previously, only chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, doves, pigeons, pheasants, partridges, quail ducks, geese and swans weighing 25 pounds or less could be shipped”The US Herpetoculture is primarily interested in the NEWLY added reptile and amphibian provisions of the proposed rule:

[Revise and reformat 9.3.3 to include a new last sentence, and a new item a and b as follows:]

9.3.3 Small Cold-Blooded Animals

* * * The following also apply:

a. Reptiles (e.g. lizards, skinks, and baby alligators and caimans not more than 20 inches long) must be mailed by Express Mail, Priority Mail (excluding Critical Mail), First-Class Mail (parcels only), or First-Class Package Services.

b. Amphibians (e.g. toads, frogs, and salamanders) must be mailed by Express Mail, Priority Mail (excluding Critical Mail), First-Class Mail (parcels only), or First-Class Mail Package Services.

Support the USPS ‘Shipping Rule!’ Please click here to make public comment. The “comment” button is on the top right hand area of the regulations.gov page.

“The US Herpetoculture Alliance Protects the Future of Herpetoculture and Promotes Conservation Through Captive Breeding”

 

Nevada AB 246: Reptile Show Ban

HA Logo REDOn March 13th, 2013 Assembly Bill 246 was introduced into the Nevada General Assembly and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining. AB 246 seeks to ammend Chapter 574 of NRS and would prohibit the sale or transfer of ownership of a live animal at a swap meet. “Swap meet” means a flea market, open-air market or other organized event at which two or more persons offer merchandise for sale or exchange. If passed as written AB 246 would be a total ban on reptile trade shows in Nevada.

UPDATE Connecticut: Boas & Burms Appear Safe- HB5832

After further contact with Connecticut Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment Linda Gentile, the US Herpetoculture Alliance has learned that it appears unlikely that HB 5832 will move forward in the 2013 Legislative Session.

9da4985bc8c842b68be170ac9b4829adHB 5832 proposes that section 26-40a of the general statutes be amended to provide that “the sale, transfer or breeding of certain exotic animals is also prohibited and to add tigers, mole vipers, boa constrictors, Burmese pythons and sea snakes to the list of prohibited animals. . .”

HB 5832 was referred  to the Connecticut Joint Committee on the Environment on January 24, 2013. It has languished in committee since that time without a first reading. In order to move forward HB 5832 must receive a Favorable Report prior to a hard deadline of April 3, 2013 at 5PM EST. It must then be Reported Out of committee by April 10. While we will continue to monitor the process closely, with only eight working days left on the calendar prior to the April 3rd deadline, it is the opinion of the US Herpetoculture Alliance, that it appears unlikely that HB 5832 will find traction in the 2013 session.

We are awaiting confirmation from Co-Chair Gentile whether she has any intentions to push for an eleventh hour move of HB 5832.

Thank you to all of those who participated in the Herp Alliance email campaign that generated 360 emails to Environment Committee members OPPOSING HB 5832.

Stay tuned for any last minute updates.