Tag Archives: Herp Alliance

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

PIJAC Hires Animal Rights Fat Cat as CEO

Ed Sayres, who resigned his 10 year tenure as president and CEO of the ASPCA in June 2012.
Ed Sayres, who resigned his 10 year tenure as president and CEO of the ASPCA in June 2012.  Sayres has spent 40 years as a career animal rights activist.

In a shocking development this week, PIJAC announced today that it had hired as its president and CEO, Ed Sayres, a man who has made his 40-year career in the animal rights industry, including a decade as the president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The ASPCA has a written policy against exotic animal ownership, including all reptiles and amphibians.

In fact, ASPCA’s web site states that ownership of reptiles, even corn snakes, leopard geckos and dart frogs is, “bad for the animals, bad for us and bad for the environment.”

In recent years, there has been a split in the reptile community about PIJAC and PIJAC’s intentions.  However, certain members of the industry have encouraged the reptile community to cozy up to PIJAC.  PIJAC has raked in tens of thousands of donation and auction dollars from individual donors, NARBC auctions, and Ship Your Reptiles’ donation program.  In March 2013,  USARK announced that:

“USARK has established an open line of communication with PIJAC in 2013. The PIJAC Board of Directors voted unanimously to provide USARK an honorary membership. USARK looks forward to a working relationship with PIJAC, who has been protecting the pet industry over 40 years.”

As of today, Phil Goss and USARK are “Association Representatives” of PIJAC.  Reptile insider, John Mack, sits on the PIJAC board of directors.

In the wake of PIJAC’s announcement today, some industry members have sought to distance themselves from PIJAC.  NARBC announced that it will now be donating all of its auction proceeds to USARK (who, at this time, is still in bed with PIJAC).  Presumably, USARK will also eventually break its ties to PIJAC, but that remains to be seen.

aspca quote on reptilesNonetheless, the damage is done.  PIJAC has entrenched itself for years with the reptile community and several industry leaders have served on the controversial PIJAC Herp Committee, which has discussed, among other things, the reptile community’s greatest vulnerability:  the regulation of feeder rodents. In fact, the PIJAC Herp Committee published its PIJAC Herp Community Feeder Rodent Best Management Practices  in September 2013.

All the sensitive information collected in those PIJAC Herp Committee meetings is now at the disposal of Sayres, who for the last decade has spearheaded an animal rights organization with a written policy against the keeping of any reptile or amphibian.

And the acquisition of Sayres did not likely come cheaply.  According to the New York Times,

Several [ASPCA] board members had voiced misgivings about his $566,064 salary, more than double that of Wayne Pacelle, his counterpart at the Humane Society of the United States.

Bernstein, J. June 28, 2013.  Angst at the A.S.P.C.A., New York Times.

In addition to his fat cat salary, Sayres’ actions at ASPCA raised a number of eyebrows regarding financial improprieties, including the $9.3M payout to Feld Entertainment for a lawsuit alleging mistreatment of elephants when it was discovered that ASPCA’s key witness was receiving monies from the other animal rights groups that had joined the suit, including HSUS.

The ASPCA board treasurer, James W. Gerard, was reported to have been livid over a $400,000 payment made to a consultant that netted just $14,000 for a dog cause, which Gerard called, “a failure of management disclosure to the board . . .As stewards of private donors’ monies, I felt it was an inappropriate expenditure.”  Ibid.

Ed Sayres, a career animal rights activist who has lined his pockets with a salary in excess of a half a million dollars, a man who left ASPCA amid questions regarding financial improprieties, and a man who opposes all exotic animal ownership, including reptiles and amphibians, this is who PIJAC has chosen as its new leader, and a leader that the reptile industry, through its auctions and donations has helped to fund.

NO PIJACToday on Facebook, some members of the reptile community were suggesting a “wait and see” approach, likening the Sayres appointment to a BlackOps mission.  Rest assured, Sayres is not a double agent for the reptile community, or even the animal community at large.  If this is like a BlackOps mission, it is the opposite:  the coup is that the animal rights industry just took over PIJAC.

We hope that USARK will join the rest of the reptile community in boycotting PIJAC.

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

IL HB 5940 Fact Sheet

FAIL HSUSHB 5940 was drafted by HSUS and is the legislative contact for HB 5940.  HSUS’s lobbyist is the person working on the forthcoming amendment to HB 5940.  Herp Alliance verified this directly from HSUS’s lobbyist today.

Unless you believe that special interest organizations representing extreme animal rights organizations should be supplanting state legislators elected by Illinois residents, you should OPPOSE HB 5940.

  • Introduced in the House on 2/14/14 by Representative Michael Zalewski (D).
  • HB 5940 passed the Illinois House on 4/10/14 on a vote of 79 in favor and 22 opposed.
  • HB 5940 was conceptualized, drafted and shopped by HSUS.
  • HSUS has a high paid lobbyist John Kamis of Carpenter Lipps and Leland LLP shepherding this bill through the legislature.
  • HB 5940 is sponsored in the Illinois Senate by power broker Senator Kwame Raoul, a member of the powerful Illinois Democratic machine.
  • According to Senator Raoul’s office, HB 5940 will pass the Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee on 5/13/14, after which time, an amendment will be introduced that is being drafted currently by HSUS lobbyist, John Kamis.
  • Herp Alliance has spoken directly to John Kamis who has indicated that HSUS is calling the shots on the bill, which is intended to grandfather in existing animals but to preclude the future acquisition of restricted animals unless specifically exempted.
  • Current Illinois Law (720 ILCS 5/48-10) exempts USDA Class C licensees.  The current version of the bill removes the exemption and restricts ownership of specified “dangerous animals” unless the licensee is also an AZA accredited zoo.  (HSUS is working on an amendment right now that will not be prepared in time for the committee hearing on 5/13/14).

USARK v Jewell et al.: An Update as of April 9th

320px-Caramel_burmese_pythonThere has not been much action since the defendants in USARK’s lawsuit filed their Reply in support of their Motion to Dismiss USARK’s complaint.

On or around March 25th, USARK issued a statement, ostensibly written by Kelley Drye (“KD”), defending their performance to date in the lawsuit.   Since that time, two things have been filed.

First, on March 31st, KD partner, David E. Frulla, filed his Appearance on behalf of USARK.  Although Shaun Gehan will apparently remain on the case, KD has assigned a partner to the matter now as well. This should be a welcomed change. Frulla has impressive credentials.  Although a partner with his qualifications is going to come at a handsome price, his experience and oversight can only help.

Second, on April 1, 2014, USARK filed its Motion for Oral Argument.  The Court has discretion to hear oral arguments on the Motion to Dismiss or to rule on the pleadings.  In this case, USARK feels that the complexities of its position require clarification in the form of oral arguments to the Court.  No decision yet as to if and when the Court will hear oral arguments.

In its March 25th statement, KD claims that they have developed, a “reasonable budget” for this lawsuit.  However, they have declined to name a figure.  The frenetic fund raising that ushered in this lawsuit seems to have subsided to a certain degree, but stating their fundraising goals and how close they are to achieving those goals would probably assist with their fundraising efforts.

KD goes on to opine that discovery in this case will somehow be cheaper because the government is required to produce its record.  Regardless of the source of the documents, properly preparing a case for litigation will require a thorough review of those documents, a review that must now be done by two partners at two law firms.  Although discovery requests can be expensive, the bulk of the fees incurred lie in reviewing, analyzing and strategizing on how to use those documents.

281px-Ball_python_lucyNonetheless, KD has a budget. Hopefully that budget is not in the nature of a flat fee.  After all, if a buyer offers to pay a seller a $10,000 flat fee and tells the seller to send him snakes, the seller has the option to send one normal ball python or 25 coral glow ball pythons.  It is not difficult to surmise what the buyer is likely to receive.  The more snakes he sends, the lower his profit margin.  Law firms operate on the same economics as any other service business.

This is not a simple case and it is, in some respects, a case of first impression. We continue to like some of USARK’s legal arguments, but winning them will require sophisticated lawyering, creative and competent arguments, and more attention to detail.  One thing that KD did not address in their post was why USARK’s response brief to the Motion to Dismiss was filed with so many errors that a Notice of Errata was required.

KD has incorrectly stated that Herp Alliance has criticized the lawsuit for not seeking monetary damages.  We have never done so, but we have taken the time to summarize issues at various times when explanations were not forthcoming elsewhere, and we will continue to do that.  Rather than wasting time in a defensive posture to our posts, we wish KD would focus their attentions and their billable hours on the case at hand, a case that has drastic ramifications for the Reptile Nation, for herpetoculture, and to the thousands of species whose ultimate survival may depend on captive breeding.

We have said every time we have mentioned this suit that those who have an interest in large constrictors should dig deep and donate to this lawsuit, and we will repeat that request now.

 

Illinois Introduce the Herptiles-Herps Act

IDNROn January 23, 2014, Illinois Senator John J. Cullerton (D) introduced Senate Bill 902 which pertained to deer hunting.  On February 18, 2014, the primary sponsor of SB 902 was changed to Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D).  On March 17, 2014, Senator Clayborne amended SB 902 into The Illinois Herptiles-Herps Act .  See SB 902 First Amendment.

SB 902 is substantially similar to SB 2362 which was introduced in the 2013 session.  It seeks to carve out all herpetofauna and to deal with them in a separate statutory section all to themselves. It is a proposed “herp code.” It states specifically that:

For purposes of this Act, reptiles and amphibians shall be exempt from the definition of “aquatic life” under Section 1-20 of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code. All rules and enforcement actions under the Illinois Conservation Law and the dangerous animals provisions in Section 48-10 of the Criminal Code of 2012 related to reptiles and amphibians shall be covered exclusively by this Act.

Under current Illinois law, it is illegal to privately keep any venomous or life threatening reptile. The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that pythons of 15′ in length are life threatening and therefore illegal.

SB 902 would lift the prohibition on large constrictors currently in place, and instead proposes certain “captive maintenance requirements” as set forth in the bill are met.

SB 902 would also make it legal to keep certain venomous snakes, crocodilians, Komodo dragons and crocodile monitor lizards with a permit only if used for bona fide educational purposes.

SB 902 makes it unlawful to buy, sell or offer to sell any aquatic or semi-aquatic turtles with a carapace of under 4″ or their eggs in the state. This means that the Illinois State Department of Natural Resources could enforce the 4″ provision of aquatic or semi-aquatic turtles without FDA.

SB 902 imposes insurance requirements and liability on owners of all of the “special use herptiles” within the bill and provides for criminal and civil penalties for noncompliance.

Herp Alliance endorses SB 902.

 

Ohio Budgets $995,000 to its Dangerous Wild Animals Act

Ohio Governor Kasich
Ohio Governor Kasich

Ohio Representative Ron Amstutz (R) introduced Ohio House Bill 483 on March 18, 2014 to make operating and other appropriations and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs.  Out of its $2.38 billion appropriations bill, Ohio has budgeted $995,000 toward its ill conceived Dangerous Wild Animals Act. Of this amount, $800,000 is earmarked for the administration of its  Dangerous and Restricted Wild Animal Permitting Program.

As of December 31, 2013, no permits had been issued pursuant to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act.  (http://wosu.org/2012/news/2013/12/31/no-permits-issued-yet-for-ohio-exotic-animal-owners-in-2014/ )

The $2.9M Exotic Animal Penitentiary in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
The $2.9M Exotic Animal Penitentiary in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

During the hearings on SB 310, the ballot initiative that became the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animals Act, Senator Troy Balderson, the bill’s sponsor claimed that it would cost the state of Ohio $800,000 to implement SB 310 into law.  Already, Ohio has spent $2.9M on its exotic animal containment facility in Reynoldsburg that sat empty for all of 2013, and now it is allocating another $995,000.

SB310 bill signing
Governor Kasich, Senator Balderson and Jack Hannah, at the SB 310 bill signing.

Governor Kasich’s Big, Expensive Blunder is now 487% over budget, and they are only three months into the program.  Ohio voters, particularly those in Senator Balderson’s district, should pay attention.

Governor Kasich’s 2014-2015 budget cut $1.9M in taxes, shifting the tax burden from the affluent to middle- and lower-income families.  It denies Medicaid funding to 275,000 low income workers, and Ohioans will foot the bill for oil and gas drilling.  His education funding is $607M lower than it was in 2010-2011, and Ohio homeowners are losing their tax rollback on future new and replacement levies.  But they have a $2.9M exotic animal penitentiary and $995,000 to spare on their over bearing, unnecessary permit system.

Ohioans should be very ashamed of their local government.