Category Archives: State Issues

American Bar Association Recommends Constrictor Ban

No BoaThe US Herpetoculture Alliance reported on September 1, 2014 that the Animal Law Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) had taken a stand against “Dangerous Wild Animals,” recommending a ban on the private ownership of ALL large constrictors, venomous snakes and crocodilians.  640px-American_Bar_Association.svg

Today, the ABA House of Delegates approved ABA Animal Law Committee
Resolution 105
, urging the passage of laws that “prohibit, the possession,sale, breeding, import, or transfer of dangerous wild animals.”
 Resolution 105 states that:

“Dangerous wild animals do not make good pets. Only through private prohibition can there exist  a uniform U.S. legal regime that safeguards the public, protects animals, allocates legal liability and insurance risk properly, furthers a policy of respect for nature, and considers the interests of present and future generations in accordance with the goals of the American Bar Association.”

ABA’s list is broad and over-inclusive, and it has defined “Dangerous Wild Animals” to include, among multiple species of mammals, the following reptiles:

  • All species of alligators, crocodiles, caimans, gharials.
  • Family Atractaspidae: all species, such as mole vipers.
  • Anacondas (Genus Eunectes), boa constrictors (Boa constrictor), Burmese pythons (Python molurus), reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus), amethystine pythons (Morelia amethistinus), scrub pythons (Morelia kinghorni), Northern African pythons (Python sebae), Southern African pythons (Python natalensis).
  • Family Colubridae: boomslangs (Dispholidus typus), twig snakes (Genus Thelotornis).
  • Family Elapidae: all species, such as cobras, mambas, and coral snakes.
  • Family Hydrophiidae: all species, such as sea snakes.
  • Family Viperidae: all species, such as rattlesnakes, pit vipers, and puff adders.

The Report presents new problems for all exotic animal owners and keepers, including reptile owners.  The Report states that,

“the American Bar Association urges all federal, state, territorial, and local legislative bodies and/or governmental agencies to enact comprehensive laws that prohibit the private possession, sale, breeding, import, or transfer of dangerous wild animals, such as big cats, bears, wolves, primates, and dangerous reptiles, in order to protect public safety and health, and to ensure the humane treatment and welfare of such animals.”

This edict, adopted and approved by the ABA, will be a persuasive argument to politicians.

The Reptile Nation needs, now more than ever, effective advocacy, or the Lacey Act’s Injurious Wildlife List will be a moot point because large constrictors will be illegal at the state and local levels.

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.

 

Texas House Resolution Celebrates Cruelty

jaycees logoThe big news for the Reptile Nation from the Texas legislature so far in 2015  is not big cats or primates, it’s the celebration of the Sweetwater Jaycees cruelty and gore exhibition:  the World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup.

On January 28, 2015, Representative Susan L. King (R-Abilene) filed Texas House Resolution 251, “Welcoming the Sweetwater Jaycees to the State Capitol for their Rattlesnake Roundup.”

jwj-rattlesnakes-0289
The Sweetwater Jaycees bring live rattlesnakes to the State Capitol each year to promote the World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup.

HR 251 claims that the Sweetwater Jaycees share, “valuable lessons about one
of the Lone Star State’s most feared creatures . . . the Western diamondback rattlesnake.”  It describes the Rattlesnake Roundup as, “a three-day extravaganza originally conceived by a group of area farmers and ranchers plagued by an overpopulation of rattlesnakes.”  HR 251 calls the marketing of the Rattlesnake Roundup at the State Capitol a “fun and informative event” and an “unforgettable presentation.”  HR 251 is intended to be an “expression of high regard by the Texas House of Representatives” to the Sweetwater Jaycees for their Rattlesnake Roundup.

children skinningThe Rattlesnake Roundup is a gruesome and barbaric celebration of the torture and slaughter of rattlesnakes.  Rattlesnakes are collected for weeks or months prior to the event each year, often by gassing or pouring ammonia into their underground burrows to force the snakes to surface.  These massive collections of snakes impact many other species as well, including bull snakes, gopher snakes and indigo snakes.  The population of the Western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox), although still plentiful, has suffered severe regional declines due to habitat destruction, road traffic, hunting and persecution for rattlesnake roundups.

headlessAt the 2014 event, 3,890 pounds of rattlesnakes were slaughtered.  Children are offered the opportunity to skin a snake, and afterward, press their hands covered with snake blood onto a wall of hand prints.

This is not an educational event.  It is not an enriching activity for families.  It is a lucrative money maker for the state of Texas, blood money that is reaped by teaching children to have a reckless disregard for the lives of animals and the ecology of our planet.

skinning table Texas residents should contact their Representatives and Rep. King and voice their reasoned opposition to HR 251.

Herp Alliance opposes and condemns HR 251.

Contact information for members of the Texas House of Representatives can be found by clicking on this link.

 

 

 

Dunedin Votes to Kill Snake Ban

Dunedin City Commission
Dunedin City Commission Votes to Kill Snake Ban

In a move foreshadowed to the US Herpetoculture Alliance by Dunedin City officials on Monday, December 15th, the City Commission voted minutes ago to remove all references to snakes from from ordinance 14-30 (Animals).

On December 3rd the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) reported that, “Dunedin, Florida will likely pass a ban on nearly all snakes…” USARK was referring to a proposed amendment by the Dunedin City Commission of an ordinance banning “poisonous” snakes, adding “constrictor snakes more than 4 ft long.”

The US Herpetoculture Alliance also reported back on the 3rd of December, and again last Monday, that according to the Florida State Constitution, regulation of wildlife was solely under the authority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and thus ordinance 14-30 and the proposed amendment to add constricting snakes was unconstitutional.

“We are happy to be constitutionally compliant.” ~ Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski

Dr Don Woodman, DVM
Dr Don Woodman, DVM

Fortunately, Dunedin City officials were open to a reasonable conversation. Dr. Don Woodman, DVM immediately went to work personally contacting the City Commission and explaining the constitutional conundrum. At the suggestion of the US Herpetoculture Alliance, Dr Woodman supplied case law to City Attorney Thomas Trask demonstrating legal precedent for our constitutional argument. Tonight, with Dr. Woodman in attendance, the City Commission voted to strike all reference to snakes from ordinance 14-30.

“Thank you to the Dunedin City Commission for considering legal precedent in their decision.” ~ Dr. Don Woodman, DVM

This was truly a team victory. USARK was able to raise the profile of the issue with a large grass roots email campaign, and Dr. Woodman was able to make a well supported and effective legal argument. Dunedin herpers can now breath a sigh of relief. The Dunedin snake ban has been averted!

UPDATE: Florida Ban May Strike All Language Pertaining To Snakes

Dunedin May Strike All Language Pertaining To Snakes From City Ordinance
Dunedin May Strike All Language Pertaining To Reptiles From City Ordinance

The City of Dunedin, Florida has proposed to add a clause prohibiting “constrictor snakes more than 4 feet long” to an existing City ordinance banning “poisonous” snakes.

On December 3rd the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) reported that “almost all snakes will be banned within the city of Dunedin, Florida.” Both USARK and the City of Dunedin were apparently unaware that under the Florida State Constitution, only the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has authority to regulate wildlife in the sunshine state. The US Herpeteculture Alliance pointed out this constitutional nuance of Florida wildlife law less than an hour after the USARK alert.

The reality of this situation is that the ordinance banning “poisonous” snakes and the proposed addition of constrictor snakes more than 4 feet long is unconstitutional under Florida law.

On December 11th the Tampa Bay Times ran an article entitled, Dunedin to take longer look at banning longer snakes, underscoring the constitutional authority over wildlife regulation by FWC. Since then Thomas Trask, Dunedin City Attorney, has been reviewing the constitutionality of the proposed ordinance. Now the Herp Alliance has learned that it is possible that the Dunedin City Commission may strike all language pertaining to snakes from the ordinance.

Reptile Ban in Dunedin Florida Unconstitutional

10511425_665398470208776_5576830582514919296_oAbout an hour ago the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) reported that almost all snakes will be banned within the city of Dunedin, Florida. They did not include a copy of the proposed ordinance. However, if they are correct, the move would contravene Florida’s State Constitution.

“Dunedin, Florida will likely pass a ban on nearly all snakes unless they hear resistance. Tomorrow (12/4/14) at 6:30 PM the revised ordinance will be heard and could pass including a ban on nearly all snakes.” ~ USARK

USARK sent out an action alert with a form letter to their membership encouraging opposition to the proposed ordinance. In the alert they urge Florida residents and parties outside the state to contact the city commission citing reasons to oppose the proposal. What USARK overlooks is that only Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has the authority under the Florida State Constitution to regulate “wildlife.”

“If an ordinance is to be considered, input from citizens and alternatives to over-reaching bans should be at the forefront of discussions.” ~ excerpt USARK form letter

The appeal to city commissioners by USARK attempts to make several arguments, except the most salient one: the Dunedin City Commission cannot pass and enforce an ordinance that is in violation of the Florida Constitution.

It is likely that the City of Dunedin, like USARK, is unaware that this proposed ordinance violates State Constitution. We commend USARK for the effort. However we suggest they refocus their argument on the issue of preemption.

If you plan to contact the Dunedin City Commission consider focusing on educating them to the fact that the authority to regulate wildlife is under the sole purview of FWC.

Link to USARK Action Alert

American Bar Association Recommends Constrictor Ban

No Boa
640px-American_Bar_Association.svgThe US Herpetoculture Alliance has learned that in August, the American Bar Association (ABA) Animal Law Committee took a stand against “Dangerous Wild Animals” in a report that can be read in its entirety here: ABA Animal Law Committee August 2014 Report on Dangerous Wild Animals.  The Report, which recommends a ban on the private ownership of ALL large constrictors, venomous snakes and crocodilians,  concluded that:

“Dangerous wild animals do not make good pets. Only through private prohibition can there exist  a uniform U.S. legal regime that safeguards the public, protects animals, allocates legal liability and insurance risk properly, furthers a policy of respect for nature, and considers the interests of present and future generations in accordance with the goals of the American Bar Association.”

ABA’s list is broad and over-inclusive, and it has defined “Dangerous Wild Animals” to include, among multiple species of mammals, the following reptiles:

  • All species of alligators, crocodiles, caimans, gharials.
  • Family Atractaspidae: all species, such as mole vipers.
  • Anacondas (Genus Eunectes), boa constrictors (Boa constrictor), Burmese pythons (Python molurus), reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus), amethystine pythons (Morelia amethistinus), scrub pythons (Morelia kinghorni), Northern African pythons (Python sebae), Southern African pythons (Python natalensis).
  • Family Colubridae: boomslangs (Dispholidus typus), twig snakes (Genus Thelotornis).
  • Family Elapidae: all species, such as cobras, mambas, and coral snakes.
  • Family Hydrophiidae: all species, such as sea snakes.
  • Family Viperidae: all species, such as rattlesnakes, pit vipers, and puff adders.

The Report presents new problems for all exotic animal owners and keepers, including reptile owners.  The Report states that,

“the American Bar Association urges all federal, state, territorial, and local legislative bodies and/or governmental agencies to enact comprehensive laws that prohibit the private possession, sale, breeding, import, or transfer of dangerous wild animals, such as big cats, bears, wolves, primates, and dangerous reptiles, in order to protect public safety and health, and to ensure the humane treatment and welfare of such animals.”

Without question, this Report will make its way into legislatures across the country as anti-reptile bills are introduced, and an edict from the ABA will be a persuasive argument to politicians.

The Reptile Nation needs, now more than ever, effective advocacy, or the Lacey Act’s Injurious Wildlife List will be a moot point because large constrictors will be illegal at the state and local levels.

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.

 

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!