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.
Now, 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.
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.
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
The short answer as to why PIJAC is in bed with animal rights is ‘Puppy Mills’; or maybe more specifically, the money represented by PIJAC’s biggest constituent, the Hunte Corporation (the largest puppy mill broker in US). But why would the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) hire an Animal Rights “fat cat” to run the pet industry. In a word? — SURVIVAL.
In a shocking development, PIJAC announced 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).
Ed Sayres is a man with a storied career as a mercenary for the animal rights industry. While others exhibit ideological zeal, Sayres displays the kind of cold calculation attributed to a contract killer. He has left a wake of controversy involving ethical dealings with other organizations, as well as possible financial improprieties. Last year he oversaw the ASPCA’s payment of $9.3 million to settle a RICO lawsuit filed by Ringling Brothers Circus after the judge threw out a frivolous lawsuit discovering that Sayres’ key witness was on the take from the animal rights plaintiffs.
Sayres’ strengths are fundraising and political deal making. Some in the pet industry have suggested that he is an intelligence asset that has been flipped from animal rights advocate to pet advocate like some cloak and dagger spy novel. It is naive to think that after investing his entire 40 year career in animal rights, that he has suddenly had a change of heart. Sayres appears more like a conquering general sent to administer the occupation of a fallen enemy.
It may seem counter-intuitive on its face that a pet advocate like PIJAC would seek to hire someone with such strong ties to the likes of Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the zealous world of animal rights. Clearly Ed Sayres is a committed animal rights soldier, but PIJAC’s downward slide since the resignation of its founder and CEO, Marshall Myers in 2010 may have left them with few alternatives. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
To fill the vacuum created by the resignation of Myers, PIJAC appointed Mike Canning as President and CEO in September of 2010. Coming from the financial industry, Canning appeared inept in dealing with legislative challenges at the local, state and federal level. Canning’s presidency left a wake of legislative losses across the country, losing on puppy mill legislation at every level of government. Oddly enough, his one victory was in Ohio where state legislators intimated that he traded his support of a draconian anti-reptile/exotic animal bill (SB 310), for consideration on a simultaneous piece of puppy mill legislation.
Through Canning, the North American Reptile Breeders Conference (NARBC) used auction monies to fund a contract lobbyist in Ohio that acquiesced to SB 310.
PIJAC may have been desperate when it decided to join forces with HSUS and the ASPCA on a definition of “puppy mill.” Certainly, PIJAC wanted and needed to slow the legislative march and strong public support of putting puppy mills out of business. In December 2013 HSUS dropped a press release with the headline, Pet Industry and Animal Welfare Organizations Join Forces to Address Puppy Mill Abuse. In it, Wayne Pacelle of HSUS and Ed Sayres of ASPCA both sang the praises of PIJAC.
“We are pleased that the industry has come together in a meaningful way to acknowledge this abuse, and confront it head on.” ~ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres.
It is likely that in the course of their close work together on puppy mills, the negotiations with Sayres, ASPCA and HSUS for control of the pet industry began, cloaked as “cooperation.”
In spite of, or perhaps because of, the joint venture between PIJAC, ASPCA and HSUS, the legislative pressure to ban puppy mills continued in 2014. More ground was lost by the pet industry. One small victory in Ohio back in 2012 was not likely enough to satisfy PIJAC’s largest constituent, the Hunte Corporation, America’s largest supplier of pet shop puppies, trafficking approximately 90,000 puppies per year (as of 2007) all over the world.
Since the departure of Marshall Myers from PIJAC, the regulatory environment for Hunte to continue to broker mass produced puppies to the nation’s pet stores had been significantly inhibited. PIJAC’s savvy opponents in the animal rights industry were steam rolling Canning, who quietly left PIJAC in early 2014. With continued pressure from Sayres and Pacelle, the Hunte Corporation seems to have become convinced that the best chance for continued profitability from commercially produced puppies was to try to borrow the mantle of humane treatment from an unlikely source: the animal rights industry itself with Sayres championing Hunte’s cause.
“As animal welfare and pet industry leaders, we have no greater responsibility than to ensure that dogs in our country are treated humanely” ~Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS
Likely Sayres will create a set of PIJAC “best management practices” (BMP’s). Already, he has issued a public statement extolling the virtues of the Hunte Corporation after visiting their headquarters in the puppy mill capitol of Missouri. If PIJAC follows its prior strategies regarding reptile breeders and feeder rodent suppliers, it may create some kind of accreditation process that could be offered to Hunte Corporation puppy suppliers. A move like this would legitimize Hunte suppliers, while leaving other puppy mill interests on the outside looking in. Future legislation could be crafted to exempt PIJAC accredited facilities. This scenario would offer salvation to Hunte, unite the pet and animal rights industries, and give both PIJAC and their new partners kudos and fundraising opportunities while they claim to have “cleaned up” puppy mills.
Make no mistake, this is about money, big money. The pet industry represents approximately $58 billion in annual sales. The Hunte Corporation controls PIJAC and they will do whatever is necessary to keep their puppy mills in operation. If that entails cozying up to former enemies, so be it. PIJAC lost all autonomy with the resignation of Marshall Myers. They have now become a tool of the Hunte Corporation. PIJAC has sold the rest of the pet industry down the river so that Hunte can keep their puppy mills operating. Meanwhile, the animal rights industry has pulled off the biggest coup d’état in the history of the pet industry. As of yet, the repercussions of this upheaval are not quite clear, but this unprecedented development will likely have a negative impact on pets and pet owners for years to come.
Hats off to Ed Sayres for this apparent takeover of PIJAC and the pet industry by the animal rights industry. It was masterful chess move in the fight to decide animal policy in America. Although most animal interests will oppose this unholy marriage, large pet interests will support the move because they want to continue to sell pet food and supplies (and in some cases mass produced puppies). However, trusting people who are against the idea of animals in captivity to preserve the rights of people to keep animals puts the future of owning pets in the United States into question.
Last year the US Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK), the reptile industry trade association, went to great lengths to ‘swear fealty’ and follow the lead of PIJAC. The big question for herpetoculture and the reptile community is whether USARK will continue to toe the line for PIJAC under the new regime.
Ed Sayers may ultimately be good for the Hunte Corporation, but his long time anti-reptile stance is counter to the interests and the future of herpetoculture and the Reptile Nation. Look for the pet industry to support or turn the other cheek at future bans on reptile shows and internet sales. Further, look for the pet industry to support heavy regulation of feeder animal production. And finally, look for pet industry support on invasive species and dangerous animal legislation that is contrary to herpetoculture. The agenda of animal rights is about to become the agenda of the pet industry. The US Herpetoculture Alliance urges USARK not to compound past mistakes by continuing to support PIJAC.
Say NO to Ed Sayers. Say NO to Hunte Corporation. Say NO to PIJAC. Say NO to the Animal Rights infiltration of the pet industry!
HB 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 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).
Illinois House Bill 5940 is another bill that seeks to modify the Illinois Dangerous Animals Act. HB 5940 was written by HSUS and is being shepherded through the legislature by HSUS’s paid lobbyist, Carpenter Lipps & Leland LLP.
HB 5940 goes before the Agriculture and Conservation Committee tomorrow, May 13, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.
The full text of Amendment 2 to HB 5940 can be read here. This is an HSUS ballot initiative and it seeks to impose more restrictions on owners of exotic animals, whose definition currently includes all “poisonous and life threatening reptiles.”
HSUS’s position on this initiative is so restrictive that they do not wish to include an exemption for the Zoological Association of America (as did Ohio and Maryland), one of two national accreditation organizations whose member institutions include Six Flags Wild Safari Animal Park (NJ), Orange County Zoo (CA), Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation (FL), Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (TX), and many others.
If SB 902 does not pass, HB 5940 will put further restrictions on “poisonous and life threatening reptiles,” which Illinois case law has defined to include certain large constrictors over 15′ in length.
In the meantime, SB 902 goes before the Illinois House Agriculture & Conservation Committee tomorrow, May 13, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. The members of that committee can be found here. Please call, email and fax them TODAY to vote YES on SB 902.
As a litigator myself, I have always told clients that litigation is like finding a piece of string on the floor that leads out a closed door. Sometimes, when you pull on that string, a ball of yarn rolls to your feet. But sometimes, you pull that string, and an elephant walks into your sitting room.
On December 18, 2013, USARK filed its Complaint against Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, and US Fish and Wildlife Service challenging the Constrictor Rule to the Lacey Act.
The Defendants responded with a highly technical Motion to Dismiss and USARK responded with an even more technical Response containing a tortured explanation of how USARK is now a conservation organization. We await the government’s Reply which is due within the week. So far, all of the legal wrangling pertains to pleading deficiencies alleged by the government in USARK’s Complaint.
As Herp Alliance has stated repeatedly, we think that USARK will be able to amend its Complaint to correct those pleading deficiencies such that it can overcome the hurdle of standing.
So far, this has little to do with arbitrary and capricious rule making or a reach by the government through the Lacey Act to try to restrict interstate commerce, which is the meat of USARK’s complaint.
We have been asked repeatedly for our opinion of USARK’s case. The strength of a lawsuit does not lie solely in the application of facts to the law. We like USARK’s legal argument. Nonetheless, the case is weak, very weak, and for one major reason: money.
If the rumors on Facebook are true, USARK has raised $137,000 toward the lawsuit. If this lawsuit goes to trial, it will easily cost more than ten times that amount, which is far more money than USARK has. Without the funds to continue the fight, the case will die on the vines. The government knows that USARK is underfunded, and their legal team is probably acutely aware that USARK is going to labor intensely just to make it through discovery, much less early dispositive motions like the pending Motion to Dismiss.
Individuals who are invested in the interstate commerce of large constrictors should reach deeply into their pockets now and donate to USARK’s Legal Defense Fund if they want this lawsuit to continue, otherwise there will be little chance to succeed.
Another problem for USARK is that their lead counsel, Shaun Gehan, the attorney who has so far signed all of USARK’s pleadings, announced today on LinkedIn that he is no longer with Kelley Drye and has started his own firm. Although Kelley Drye is a very large firm with tremendous legal resources, the abrupt departure of USARK’s lead counsel and presumably the attorney most knowledgeable about the case, is very bad news for USARK. Yes, another attorney can step into those shoes, but it will be expensive to bring that attorney up to speed.
But the frailties of the federal lawsuit are not the elephant in the room with herpetoculture today. We have a much bigger problem on our hands, and that problem is the landslide of state ballot initiatives that are marching unfettered across the country right now. Even if USARK wins the federal lawsuit, it will be immaterial if it is illegal to own herps at the state level.
USARK has not testified at any of the state level committee hearings in 2013 or 2014. Andrew Wyatt, former President and CEO of the Herp Alliance, testified at the Committee Hearing of Maryland House Bill 1124 (Criminal Possession of Dangerous Wild Animals), where the bill sponsor had Debbie Leahy (Captive Wildlife Regulatory Specialist, HSUS) seated at his side to present the bill to the House Committee. Prior to joining HSUS, Leahy founded the animal rights group Illinois Animal Action, which she headed for eight years. She then joined PETA and lead their nationwide campaign against circuses and roadside zoos. PETA has bragged about Leahy that she “has dashed onto killing fields to disrupt pheasant hunts,” and “dressed as a giant rabbit to protest cruel animal tests.”
Debbie Leahy is not an attorney. She is an extreme animal rights activist. And she sat in the Maryland General Assembly aside Representative Eric Luedtke and presented a piece of legislation to the House Environmental Matters Committee and helped deliver a first reading of a bill. This is a single example. Lousiana is currently trying to outlaw carpet pythons, among others, and the enormous, over-reaching West Virginia Dangerous Wild Animals Act sailed through both chambers virtually unopposed and now sits on Governor Tomblin’s desk. HSUS is clear on its web site that it believes all reptile ownership should be forbidden:
“Captive snakes and other reptiles are difficult and dangerous to care for, and released or escaped snakes wreak havoc on the environment.”
The animal rights industry is winning the war against reptiles with bill after bill going unopposed across the United States. Being allowed to ship Burmese pythons between states will be an expensive and meaningless victory if it is a criminal act to own them privately.
2014 may be a turning point for herpetoculture and the time to act is upon us.
Herp Alliance has learned this morning that the Humane Society of the United States has been pushing and is gaining support to finalize the Constrictor Rule of the Lacey Act to include all nine species of large constrictor snakes originally proposed.
Below is the text of a letter from Mike Markarian of HSUS trying to get members of Congress to sign a bipartisan letter in support of listing all five remaining constrictor snakes and to elicit support for the finalization of the Constrictor Rule to include all nine species: Burmese python, yellow anaconda, northern African rock python, southern African rock python, reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, Beni anaconda, and boa constrictor.
January XX, 2014
Secretary Sally Jewell
United States Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary
1849 C Street NW, Room 6156
Washington, DC 20240
Administrator Howard Shelanski
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Office of Management and Budget
Executive Office of the President
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
1650 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Room 262
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Secretary Jewell and Administrator Shelanski,
We are writing to request that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) move quickly—and with support from OMB and the White House—to complete its ruling on large non-native constrictor snakes by issuing a final regulation listing the reticulated python, the DeSchauensee’s anaconda, the green anaconda, the Beni anaconda and the boa constrictor as injurious under the Lacey Act.
These snakes pose an unacceptable and preventable risk to the safety of the American people, and to some of our most treasured natural places. Since 1990, 12 people have died from encounters with “pet” constrictor snakes, including a two year old Florida girl and a three year old Illinois boy who were both strangled in their cribs. Dozens more have been injured or sickened. Further, these snakes have shown that they can adapt to, invade, and severely damaged native ecosystems, as we have seen with the Burmese python’s decimation of mammal populations in the Florida Everglades, and the boa constrictors displacement of native reptiles in Puerto Rico. We cannot afford to risk the introduction of additional invasive species that will be expensive and difficult to eradicate.
In a comprehensive 323-page report issued in 2009, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) concluded that nine species of dangerous exotic constrictor snakes present a “high” or “medium” risk of becoming invasive since unwanted snakes commonly escape from cages, or are turned loose by owners who were never informed their “pets” would grow to over 15 feet long. On January 23, 2012, FWS issued a rule listing four of the nine species—Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas, and northern and southern African pythons, which represent about 30 percent of the trade—as injurious under the Lacey Act. Unfortunately, two years have passed and FWS has failed to take action on the remaining 70 percent of the trade in large constrictor snakes. Unless these species are added to the list of injurious species, the trade will continue to threaten the environment as well as public safety.
The largely unregulated reptile industry poses a significant burden to taxpayers. The FWS, in partnership with many organizations, has spent more than $6 million since 2005 attempting to combat the growing problem of Burmese pythons and other large invasive constrictor snakes in Florida where they are consuming endangered and threatened species, have decimated as much as 99 percent of the area’s small and medium sized native mammals, and are killing family pets in residential neighborhoods.
The ability of an individual to own or sell a dangerous and exotic animal must be balanced against the interests of all Americans in preserving public safety.
Thank you for attention to this urgent matter.
Cc: Jeanne A. Hulit
Office of the Administrator
United States Small Business Administration
409 Third Street, SW, Suite 7000
Washington, DC 20416
On April 18, 2013 H 3985 was introduced into the South Carolina House of Representatives. H 3985 is an onerous bill that could ban the possession and trade of hundreds of species of reptiles; including constrictor snakes, venomous and crocodilians. This bill was introduced by Representatives J.E. Smith and R.L. Brown, and referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. H 3985 is a template for “Dangerous Wild Animal” (DWA) legislation that is being pushed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). It is a threat to tens of thousands of animal owners in South Carolina.
If passed as written H 3985 could make it “unlawful for any person to import, possess, sell, transfer, or breed a dangerous wild animal”. The list of reptiles that would be prohibited under H 3985 are:
( i) Order Crocodylia: all species of alligators, crocodiles, caimans, gharials;
(ii) Order Squamata:
(A) Family Atractaspidae: all species, such as mole vipers;
(C) Family Colubridae: boomslangs (Dispholidus typus), twig snakes (Genus Thelotornis);
(D) Family Elapidae: all species, such as cobras, mambas, and coral snakes;
(E) Family Hydrophiidae: all species, such as sea snakes;
(F) Family Viperidae: all species, such as rattlesnakes, pit vipers, and puff adders; and
(iii) All species listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act (50 C.F.R. 17.11) as threatened or endangered are considered dangerous wild animals.
In addition, there is a “grandfather clause” that would allow current owners to keep their animals with requisite documentation to prove ownership prior to July 1, 2013.
The Herp Alliance shares the same federal consultant (Vitello Consulting) with the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS). In addition, we have reached out to Feld Entertainment in order to work with multiple stakeholders to address concerns with H 3985.
H 3985 is straight out of the HSUS playbook. They have coined the term, “Dangerous Wild Animal” to define their legislation and strike fear into the hearts of legislators and the public. The US Herpetoculture Alliance is committed to fighting this H 3985 “tooth and nail”.
“Georgia and the Carolinas are my home. South Carolina has always been a bastion of personal liberty. There is NO justification for the kind of draconian legislation that has been introduced.” ~ Andrew Wyatt, CEO US Herpetoculture Alliance.
Stand by for the coming action alert to empower you to take ACTION to OPPOSE H3985.
“The US Herpetoculture Alliance Protects the Future of Herpetoculture and Promotes Conservation Through Captive Breeding”
On March 13th and 14th, Herp Alliance CEO Andrew Wyatt attended meetings with top law makers in Washington, DC. Recent developments in the federal legislative and regulatory environment demand an immediate and proactive approach to issues of vital importance to the future of herpetoculture.
The agenda included meetings with Speaker of the House 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.
The two most pressing issues for herpetoculture at this time are:
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is attempting to pressure the Obama Administration into finalizing the ‘Constrictor Rule.’ They seek to add the five species that were left off last January when US Fish & Wildlife Service partially enacted a final rule, but continued to consider for listing Boa constrictor, reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act; and
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will sponsor a broad invasive species bill entitled the “Invasive Wildlife Protection Act” in the Senate for the 113th Congress. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) will introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives. These bills seek to add hundreds of non-native species to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act; including many reptiles and amphibians. (This is a re-write of HR 669 from 2008)
Senator Nelson’s Chief of Staff confirmed that it is his intention that the Invasive Wildlife Protection Act will indeed move forward in this session. He also promised that the Herp Alliance will be a part of the discussion and debate. We acknowleged that there are likely to be considerable differences in position on this issue, but herp Alliance felt it important to reach out and engage early in the process.
Several proactive ideas and strategies came forward in both Senate and House meetings of how the Herp Alliance, together with the help of our friends and allies, may be able to move powerfully to protect the future of herpetoculture regarding the partial rule and the new invasive species bills. The Herp Alliance is committed to staying at the forefront of these issues to protect our interests. We have a plan and we will continue to stay ahead of the game.
“We have spent 5 years taking control of the narrative on invasive species. We have clearly demonstrated that the science and economics support our case. Now the HSUS is in a position of attempting to rebut our talking points. We are taking dynamic action to stay ahead of that curve.” ~ Herp Alliance CEO, Andrew Wyatt
Special thanks to Herp Alliance’s Washington DC consultant, Frank Vitello, of Vitello Consulting, for his help and expertise.
Donations are needed to fund the appeal against Ohio’s Dangerous Wild Animals Act. Herp Alliance is not involved in the lawsuit, but we ask you to please consider helping our exotic animal friends in Ohio. This fight affects us all. For more information, visit OAAO Membership.
From Polly Briton at the Ohio Association of Animal Owners ~
IMPORTANT ATTORNEY UPDATE — We had a teleconference with the attorney at 1:30 today (3/13/13). The preliminary papers have been filed for the appeal and the transcript of the trial (December 2012) has been prepared and will be released as soon as the court receives payment for the transcript. That payment amounts to approximately $2,300. We are mailing $1,000 of it tomorrow morning and that will deplete our Legal Fund until more items are sold and paid for, or we receive some more cash donations. That means we need to raise $1,300 quickly. If the transcript isn’t paid for soon, the court could administratively dismiss the appeal case. We’ve been sending the attorney $$ all along, but most of what we’ve sent since December has gone to pay for the deposition transcripts, not to the attorney himself. He’s been patient and isn’t pressing us for the money other than we have to get this transcript paid for in order for him to proceed with the briefs. Everybody’s been so good about donating items and cash and buying items on this site, I hate to ask for more; but everyone needs to know that if we want the appeal to go forward, this bill must be paid.
Also, as soon as the transcript is paid for and released, the media will be able to get their hands on it, which is a good thing. One of the things that came out at trial was John Moore’s unrefuted testimony that the Zanesville deputies shot the Thompson animals execution style. It’s about time that those details make it into the media, as well as John’s statements concerning who was the first to find Thompson’s body, and what was and wasn’t there when the body was first found.