Tag Archives: Erika Chen-Walsh

ILLINOIS FAILS TO LIFT BAN ON LARGE CONSTRICTORS

By Erika N. Chen-Walsh

Erika Chen-Walsh, Representative Emanuel Chris Welch and Andrew Wyatt in Springfield on May 14, 2013.
Erika Chen-Walsh, Representative Emanuel Chris Welch and Andrew Wyatt in Springfield on May 14, 2013.

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.1-photo 5-001

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.

ACTION ALERT: IL SB 2362 First Reading the House

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Illinois Senate Bill 2362 (3rd Amendment) just passed out of the Illinois Senate on a vote of 54-0 in favor on April 25, 2013.    On April 30, 2013, it had its first reading in the Illinois House of Representatives where it has been referred to the Agriculture and Conservation Committee.  A full list of those committee members can be found in this link.

Illinois residents, please contact the members of the Illinois Agriculture and Conservation Committee and voice your support of SB 2362 Amendment 3 without further changes.  (See below.  HSUS is seeking sweeping changes to SB 2362.  The details are below.)

Here are the major talking points in support of SB 2362:

  • SB 2362 has wide support within the State: trade show organizers, zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, private breeders, pet store owners, pet owners and the public.
  • SB 2362 will enhance public safety.
    • In the history of Illinois, there has only been a single documented incident involving a human injury from a captive reptile (1999) and if SB 2362 had been in place, it would not have occurred because the python would have been in an escape proof enclosure.
    • However, SB 2362 imposes caging requirements and management practices on all keepers of constrictor snakes and other appropriate species.
    • It establishes a permit system for the keeping of limited venomous animals and certain monitor lizards and requires liability insurance covering those animals.
    • SB 2362 imposes strict liability on all reptile and amphibian keepers for incidents arising out of the keeping of such animals. Illinois has a similar legislation in place for equines.
  • SB 2362 will also protect the animals
    • The caging, education and care requirements for limited venomous reptiles and monitor lizards provide a sound basis for good animal husbandry to allow qualified people to work with these special animals.
  • SB 2362 is good for Illinois Business.
    • The reptile industry in Illinois generates approximately $25 million in revenues for our state.
    • The reptile industry employs individuals, supports small Illinois businesses and supplements the income of thousands of Illinois families.
    • SB 2362 protects the industries that generate that income for Illinois. It protects the right of private keepers to responsibly keep reptiles and amphibians in this state and allows these thriving small businesses to continue to grow and operate.
  • SB 2362 reduces bureaucracy.
    • By placing all reptile and amphibians under the umbrella of a single statute, SB 2362 simplifies enforcement of all issues concerning these animals.
    • In summary, SB 2362 is good for the Illinois public; it is good for the animals; it is good for Illinois business, and it simplifies enforcement of Illinois law. SB 2362 is good for Illinois.

HSUS is seeking to amend SB 2362.  The features of the amendment sought by HSUS:

  • Total ban on all crocodilians;
  • Total ban on all venomous;
  • Total ban on the keeping of Komodo dragons and crocodile monitors;
  • Keeping of all pythons (including ball pythons), anacondas and all boas with permit only, including liability insurance and only for educational programs.
  • HSUS is seeking to ban the breeding of all pythons, boas and anacondas entirely in Illinois.

HSUS Seeks to Ban Ball Pythons and All Large Constrictors in Illinois

FAIL HSUS

We have learned that HSUS is making a strong initiative in Illinois to amend SB 2362.  The features of the amendment sought by HSUS:

  • Total ban on all crocodilians;
  • Total ban on all venomous;
  • Total ban on the keeping of Komodo dragons and crocodile monitors;
  • Keeping of all pythons (including ball pythons), anacondas and all boas with permit only, including liability insurance and only for educational programs.
  • HSUS is seeking to ban the breeding of all pythons, boas and anacondas entirely in Illinois.

Illinois residents, please act on the Herp Alliance Action Alert regarding SB 2362 today!

Herp Alliance Hits 10,000 Facebook Likes!

1-Logos_Revised_2_COLOR-002On April 23, 2013, Herp Alliance, with your help, passed a milestone since our inception in late December 2012:  in just four months on Facebook, we received over 10,000 likes.

Founded by a small and tightly-knit group of individuals, we have tried to hit the ground running to help protect herpetoculture from an ever-encroaching animal rights industry, to help conserve reptiles and amphibians through captive propagation, to protect science and education involving these magnificent animals, to promote high quality captive breeding, and of course, to preserve the ability of individuals to keep their cherished pets.

Early in the year, we engaged Frank Vitello, of Vitello Consulting, to assist us at the federal level, and Frank has delivered in abundance with our legal strategy, outreach, and connections to help protect against additional bans on the keeping of reptiles as well as seeking closure to the Lacey Act Rule Change that went into effect in 2012.

The 2013 legislative season is not yet over.  Since January, the Herp Alliance team has accomplished the following:

  • Herp Alliance was the first to initiate closure on the python rule to remove the 5 remaining species of constrictors from consideration under the Lacey Act.
  • We issued an Action Alert that has generated nearly 700 letters to President Obama urging Secretary Salazar to close the Constrictor Rule before leaving office and Herp Alliance sent our own.
  • We broke the news and took the lead on opposing HR 996, Representative Louise Slaughter’s proposed Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act.
  • Herp Alliance president, Andrew Wyatt, together with our DC consultant, Frank Vitello, visited Washington DC in March and met with Speaker John Boehner, Senator Bill Nelson’s Chief of Staff, Pete Mitchell, Senator Marco Rubio’s staff, Chairman Darrel Issa’s House Oversight Committee staff, Ranking Member David Vitter’s Senate EPW staff, Chairman Doc Hastings’ House Natural Resources Committee Staff Director Harry Burroughs, and others to raise awareness of herpetoculture’s most pressing federal concerns.
  • We learned of HSUS’s push to President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to finalize the ‘Constrictor Rule’ and to add 5 additional species to the constrictor rule of the Lacey Act and we exclusively brought that news to you.
  • We learned that learned that Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) would introduce his own version of the ‘Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act’ (HR 669 from 111th Congress) in this session and brought that news to you along with the first “discussion draft” of his bill.
  • We broke the news on ballot initiatives in Illinois, California, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Connecticut and immediately issued action alerts to challenge those bills.
  • With over 400 letters sent to committee members in Connecticut, we engaged in that state with you until the ban on boas and Burmese pythons was killed in committee.
  • As a result of the incredible efforts of Jared Watts and VIIPER, outstanding ground support in Virginia and Andrew Wyatt’s involvement and influence in the Virginia Dangerous Animals Initiative, together we defeated Virginia SB 477 and HB 1242.
  • Along with West Virginia Reptile Watch and its leaders Joe Perdue and Greg Stephens, together with approximately 500 letters from our supporters, Herp Alliance engaged in West Virginia against SB 466 and HB 2209 and both bills died in committee without moving forward.
  • We engaged in Wilson County, Texas, with Jason Royer and Dave Barker, where Andrew Wyatt proposed a ‘policy solution’ that ultimately reversed ordinance 1998-1 banning constricting and venomous snakes.
  • We have reviewed in excess of 550 state level bills for their potential impact on herpetoculture.
  • In all states with open legislation, we remain actively engaged and hypervigilant.

It has been a busy first four months, but we are not tired yet.  The reptile community has been sharply divided and politicized for some time.  For those of you who have had the faith in us to give us your support on Facebook, on the forums and in emails, we thank you.  For those of you who have contributed financially to our cause, we thank you.  And for those of you who have sent letters, made phone calls and taken direct action to help fight for herpetoculture, we thank you most of all.

Andrew, Kim, Doug and I appreciate all that you have done.  We are in this fight for you and with you, and we are not going away anytime soon!

 

ACTION ALERT: Illinois SB 2362

HA Logo REDBy Erika N. Chen-Walsh

Herp Alliance broke the news of Illinois SB 2362 on March 17, 2013.   We have also prepared a comprehensive summary of the provisions of SB 2362 which can be read here.

Herp Alliance endorses SB 2362.

(Please click on these links to read SB 2362 2nd amendment and SB 2362 3rd amendment.)

Herp Alliance announced the Senate Committee Hearing on SB 2362, which took place on April 16, 2013.  Erika Chen-Walsh testified in favor of SB 2362 at the request of Scott Ballard, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Senator Clayborne, the bill’s sponsor.  SB 2362 passed out  of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Conservation on a vote of 7-0 in favor with one vote of “present.”

At the committee hearing, the Humane Society of the United States opposed SB 2362 and since then, HSUS has raised more opposition to it.  HSUS wants to increase restrictions on boas, pythons and anacondas, calling them “high maintenance, deadly predators” and is attempting to influence legislators to implement such a change.

We need YOUR HELP for SB 2362 to pass its third reading on the Illinois Senator Floor before it moves to the Illinois House.  Please contact your state senators and ask them to vote YES on SB 2362.

A complete list of Illinois senators can be found here:  Illinois Senators.

Here are the major talking points in favor of SB 2362:

  • SB 2362 has wide support within the State: trade show organizers, zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, private breeders, pet store owners, pet owners and the public.
  • SB 2362 will enhance public safety.
    • In the history of Illinois, there has only been a single documented incident involving a human injury from a captive reptile (1999) and if SB 2362 had been in place, it would not have occurred because the python would have been in an escape proof enclosure. 
    • However, SB 2362 imposes caging requirements and management practices on all keepers of constrictor snakes and other appropriate species. 
    • It establishes a permit system for the keeping of limited venomous animals and certain monitor lizards and requires liability insurance covering those animals.
    • SB 2362 imposes strict liability on all reptile and amphibian keepers for incidents arising out of the keeping of such animals. Illinois has a similar legislation in place for equines. 
    • SB 2362 will also protect the animals
      • The caging, education and care requirements for limited venomous reptiles and monitor lizards provide a sound basis for good animal husbandry to allow qualified people to work with these special animals.
    • SB 2362 is good for Illinois Business.
      • The reptile industry in Illinois generates approximately $25 million in revenues for our state.
      • The reptile industry employs individuals, supports small Illinois businesses and supplements the income of thousands of Illinois families.
      • SB 2362 protects the industries that generate that income for Illinois. It protects the right of private keepers to responsibly keep reptiles and amphibians in this state and allows these thriving small businesses to continue to grow and operate.
    • SB 2362 reduces bureaucracy.
      • By placing all reptile and amphibians under the umbrella of a single statute, SB 2362 simplifies enforcement of all issues concerning these animals.
    • In summary, SB 2362 is good for the Illinois public; it is good for the animals; it is good for Illinois business, and it simplifies enforcement of Illinois law. SB 2362 is good for Illinois.

Herp Nation's Dan Krull Interviews Erika Chen-Walsh

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Herp Nation’s Dan Krull talks with Erika N. Chen-Walsh, the Vice President of the new “Herp Alliance”. Erika comes on the Dan Krull Show to answer many of the questions you’ve been asking, along with more detail about the direction of the new Herp Alliance.

http://www.herpnation.com/audio/erika-chen-walsh-talks-to-herp-nation-radio/