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!