Tag Archives: HSUS

HSUS Pushes To Add Boas & Reticulated Pythons To Lacey Act

500_Seal_Of_The_President_Of_The_United_States_Of_America.The Herp Alliance has been informed through reliable sources that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is petitioning President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to finalize the ‘Constrictor Rule’ that was partially enacted in January 2012. HSUS seeks to finalize the ‘Constrictor Rule’ by adding Boa constrictor, reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. If these species are added to the Injurious list they will go the way of the Burmese python; import and interstate transport will be criminalized. Tens of thousands of herpetoculturists could potentially become Lacey Act felons facing high monetary fines and prison time for transporting them across state lines.

Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar
Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar

Secretary Salazar will resign as Interior Secretary at the end of March. HSUS hopes to persuade him to finalize the ‘Constrictor Rule’ as one of his final acts as Secretary. HSUS is desperate to get Boa constrictor and reticulated python added to the Injurious list as a part of their continuing campaign to criminalize reptile ownership.

Please follow the link below to contact President Obama and voice your opposition to adding boas, reticulated pythons, or any other constrictors to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. Please do it today! Tell your friends, family and sphere of influence. The deadline is the end of March! DO IT NOW!

Click Here to Contact President Barack Obama Today!

Nevada Expected To Propose Exotic Animal Ban Today

Senator Michael Roberson
Senator Michael Roberson

Senator Michael Roberson of Nevada is expected to introduce a bill today that would ban many exotic animals from the State of Nevada, including a number of popular reptiles. Senator Roberson has long been promising a ban to “out do Ohio” regarding the import, possession, sale, transfer, and breeding of “dangerous wild animals”(DWA). He has been working closely with the Humane Society of the United States, who have coined the term ‘dangerous wild animals’ aka DWI’s, to create this sweeping ban. Today is the deadline for Senator Roberson to introduce a bill into the 2013 legislative session. The bill as written would ban many reptiles, including Burmese pythons.

Below is a copy of the most recent bill draft. The bill expected to be introduced later today may be altered from this draft.

nevada-state-legislature

 

AN ACT relating to the keeping of dangerous wild animals in captivity; to prohibit the import, possession, sale, transfer, and breeding of dangerous wild animals.

The People of the State of Nevada, Represented in Senate and Assembly, Do Enact As Follows:

Chapter 504 of NRS is hereby amended by adding thereto a new Section 504.296 to read as follows:

Definitions

  1. “Dangerous wild animal” means any live individual animal held in captivity of the following scientific classifications –
    1. Class Mammalia
      1. Order Carnivora –
        1. Family Canidae: captive-bred red wolves (Canis rufus) and gray wolves (Canis lupus).
        2. Family Felidae: lions (Panthera leo), tigers (Panthera tigris), leopards (Panthera pardus), clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa, Neofelis diardi), snow leopards (Panthera uncia), jaguars (Panthera onca), cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), captive-bred mountain lions (Puma concolor), including hybrids thereof.
        3. Family Hyaenidae: all species of hyena and aardwolf.
        4. Family Ursidae: Asiatic Black Bears (Ursus thibetanus), captive-bred American black bears (Ursus americanus), Brown Bears (Ursus arctos), Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus), Sloth Bears (Melursus ursinus), Sun Bears (Helarctos malayanus), Giant Panda Bears (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), Spectacled Bears (Tremarctos ornatus), including hybrids thereof.
        5. Family Procyonidae: all species.
      1. Order Primates: all species, excluding humans.
    1. Class Reptilia
      1. Order Crocodylia: all species of alligators, crocodiles, caimans, gharials.
      2. Order Squamata –
        1. Family Atractaspidae: all species, such as mole vipers.
        2. Family Boidae: anacondas (Genus Eunectes),  Burmese pythons (Python molurus),  Northern African pythons (Python sebae), and Southern African pythons (Python natalensis).
        3. Family Colubridae: boomslangs (Dispholidus typus), twig snakes (Genus Thelotornis).
        4. Family Elapidae: all species, such as cobras, mambas, and coral snakes.
        5. Family Hydrophiidae: all species, such as sea snakes.
        6. Family Viperidae: all species, excluding rattlesnakes.
  1. “Animal Control Agency” means a unit of a political subdivision consisting of animal control officers, as authorized by NRS Section 280.125 or other local governmental units for enforcement of the animal control laws of the city, county, and state and the shelter and welfare of animals.
  2. “Law enforcement officer” means any state police officer, local enforcement officers (such as county sheriffs, city police, and officers of an Animal Control Agency, or any officer acting under the authority of NRS 574.040.
  3. “Person” means any individual, partnership, corporation, organization, or any other legal entity, and any officer, member, shareholder, director, employee, agent, or representative thereof.
  4. “Wildlife Sanctuary” means a nonprofit entity that:
    1. Operates a place of refuge where abused, neglected, unwanted, impounded, abandoned, orphaned, or displaced animals are provided care for the lifetime of the animal;
    2. Does not conduct any commercial activity with respect to dangerous wild animals, including, but not limited to, (i) sale, trade, auction, lease, or loan of dangerous wild animals or parts of such animals, or (ii) use of dangerous wild animals in any manner in a for-profit business or operation;
    3. Does not use dangerous wild animals for entertainment purposes or in a traveling exhibit;
    4. Does not breed any dangerous wild animals; and
    5. Does not allow members of the public the opportunity to come into direct contact with dangerous wild animals.

 

  1. Prohibited Activities
  1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law and unless exempted herein, it shall be unlawful for any person to import, possess, sell, transfer, or breed a dangerous wild animal.
  2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it shall be unlawful for any person to allow any member of the public to come into direct contact with a dangerous wild animal.

 

  1. Exemptions
  1. The prohibitions in Subsection II(A) shall not apply to:
  1. Institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), certified related facilities that coordinate with an AZA Species Survival Plan for breeding of species listed as threatened or endangered pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1533, or facilities that are actively seeking accreditation or certification by the AZA that have a letter of understanding with a mentor institution that is renewed annually.
  2. Research facilities, as defined in the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. § 2132(e)).
  3. Wildlife sanctuaries, as defined in Subsection I(E).
  4. Duly incorporated nonprofit animal protection organizations, such as humane societies and shelters, temporarily housing a dangerous wild animal at the written request of the animal control agency acting under the authority of this Section;
  5. Licensed veterinarians for the purpose of providing treatment to a dangerous wild animal.
  6. Law enforcement officers for purposes of enforcement.
  7. Nevada Department of Wildlife game wardens, agents, or employees for purposes of enforcement.
  8. A person temporarily transporting a legally owned dangerous wild animal through the State if the transit time is not more than 48 hours, the dangerous wild animal is not exhibited, and the dangerous wild animal is maintained at all times in a species-appropriate cage or other travel container.
  9. Circuses, defined as exhibitors holding a Class C license under the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2131 et seq., as amended, that:
    1. Are temporarily in the state for less than 90 days per year;
    2. Regularly conduct performances featuring live dangerous wild animals and multiple trained human entertainers, including clowns and acrobats; and
    3. Do not allow members of the public to be in proximity to dangerous wild animals without sufficient distance and protective barriers, including, but not limited to, offering photographic opportunities next to dangerous wild animals of any age.
  1. A. The prohibitions in Subsection II(A) shall not apply to any facility licensed pursuant to NRS Chapter 463 that meets the definition in NRS Section 463.01865.

B. The prohibitions in Subsection II(A) shall not apply to a Class C exhibitor licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with respect to any dangerous wild animal possessed or bred by for the purpose of fulfilling an active written contractual agreement with a facility licensed pursuant to NRS Chapter 463 that meets the definition in NRS Section 463.01865, provided that such licensed exhibitor:

      1. Shall not have been, or employ any person who has been, convicted of or fined for an offense involving the abuse or neglect of any animal pursuant to any state, local, or federal law;
      2. Shall not have had a license or permit regarding the care, possession, exhibition, propagation, or sale of animals revoked, suspended by, or operated in violation of any state, local, or federal agency;
      3. Shall not have been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act for any noncompliant item within the past 3 years in which a dangerous wild animal’s health and well-being was jeopardized by: inappropriate veterinary care; inappropriate handling of animals causing stress or trauma to the animal or a threat to public safety; inappropriate provisions of food, water, shelter, or space; or any infraction cited as a direct noncompliant item;
      4. Shall not breed or sell any dangerous wild animals, except for as necessary to fulfill an active written contractual relationship with a facility licensed pursuant to NRS Chapter 463 that meets the definition in NRS Section 463.01865;
      5. ;
      6. Shall not allow members of the public to be in proximity to dangerous wild animals without sufficient distance and protective barriers, including, but not limited to, offering photographic opportunities next to dangerous wild animals of any age;
      7. Shall maintain liability insurance in an amount of not less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars, with a deductible of not more than two hundred fifty dollars, for each occurrence of property damage, bodily injury, or death caused by any dangerous wild animals possessed by the person;
      8. Shall have a written plan, filed with the local animal control agency  for the quick and safe recapture or destruction of animals in the event a dangerous wild animal escapes, including, but not limited to, written protocols for training staff on methods of safe recapture of the escaped animal;
      9. Shall file with the local  animal control agency an annual report of all dangerous wild animals acquired and disposed of during the calendar year; and
      10. Shall maintain documentation to verify that owner and all employees involved in animal care have a minimum of 300 hours of substantial practical experience in the care, feeding, handling, and husbandry of the dangerous wild animal possessed, or other species which are substantially similar in size, characteristics, care and nutritional requirements to the species.
      11. Shall annually file with the local  animal control agency the written contract with the facility licensed pursuant to NRS Chapter 463 that meets the definition in NRS Section 463.01865.

 

 

  1. Prior Possession

The prohibitions in Subsection II(A) shall not apply to persons who lawfully possessed a dangerous wild animal prior to July 1, 2013, provided that:

  1. Such person shall maintain veterinary records, acquisition papers, or other documents or records that establish that the person possessed the animal prior to July 1, 2013;
  2. Such person shall not acquire additional dangerous wild animals after July 1, 2013, whether by purchase, donation, or breeding;
  3. Such person shall not have been convicted of an offense involving the abuse or neglect of any animal pursuant to any state, local, or federal law;
  4. Such person shall not have had a license or permit regarding the care, possession, exhibition, breeding, or sale of animals revoked or suspended by any state, local, or federal agency;
  5. Such person must register with, and pay a registration fee to, the local animal control agency by September 1, 2013, and annually thereafter, indicating the number of animals of each dangerous wild animal species in his or her possession, and showing proof of liability insurance in an amount of not less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars, with a deductible of not more than two hundred fifty dollars, for each occurrence of property damage, bodily injury, or death caused by any dangerous wild animal possessed by the person.
  6. Such person allows a local animal control agency to enter the premises where the dangerous wild animal is kept at all reasonable times to ensure compliance with this Section.
  7. At least 72 hours prior to the sale or transfer of an existing dangerous wild animal, such person must notify the animal control agency in the city or county where the person resides in writing, identifying the recipient of the animal. At all times, possession, sale, transfer, and transport of the dangerous wild animal must comply with all applicable state, local, and federal laws.

 

  1. Enforcement
  1. Rulemaking – A city or a county may adopt an ordinance to implement this Section upon completion of all applicable hearing and notice requirements, including, but not limited to, (i) establishing reasonable and necessary fees in amounts sufficient to cover the costs of administering and enforcing this Section, (ii) establish humane care standards, and (iii) expanding the definition of dangerous wild animal. However, such ordinances shall not amend the list of exempted entities in Subsection III.
  2. Seizure –An animal control agent may, upon probable cause, seize any or all dangerous wild animals possessed in violation of this Section.
  1. Upon judicial determination that (i) the seized animals are dangerous wild animals, as defined in Subsection I(A), and (ii) the owner of the seized animals has violated this Section with regard to those seized dangerous wild animals, then such dangerous wild animals seized under this Section shall be deemed forfeited.
  2. Dangerous wild animals seized and deemed forfeited under this Subsection shall be placed in the custody and control of an institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or a wildlife sanctuary (as defined in Subsection I(E)). In the event that animal control officers, after a reasonable effort, can find no such accredited zoo or wildlife sanctuary that is willing and able to take custody and control of a seized and forfeited dangerous wild animal, that animal may be humanely euthanized in compliance with state and federal law.
  3. Dangerous wild animals seized but not deemed forfeited under this Section shall be kept in the custody of an institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a wildlife sanctuary (as defined in Subsection I(E)), or a temporary holding facility identified in Subsection III(A)(4),  until disposition of the seized dangerous wild animals.  Nothing in this Subsection precludes an animal control officer from impounding a dangerous wild animal on the owner’s property until an AZA-accredited zoo or wildlife sanctuary is located for placement.
  1. The accredited zoo, wildlife sanctuary, or temporary holding facility having custody of the dangerous wild animal (or an animal control agency that has impounded a dangerous wild animal) may file a petition with the court requesting that the person from whom the dangerous wild animal was seized, or the owner of the dangerous wild animal, be ordered to post security. The security must be in an amount sufficient to secure payment of all reasonable expenses expected to be incurred by the accredited zoo, wildlife sanctuary, temporary holding facility, or animal control agency, in caring for and providing for the dangerous wild animal pending the disposition of the animal. Reasonable expenses include, but are not limited to, estimated medical care and boarding of the dangerous wild animal pending disposition. The amount of the security shall be determined by the court after taking into consideration all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including, but not limited to, the recommendation of the impounding organization or animal control agency having custody and care of the seized dangerous wild animal and the cost of caring for the dangerous wild animal. If security has been posted in accordance with this Subsection, the accredited zoo, wildlife sanctuary, temporary holding facility, or animal control agency may draw from the security the actual costs incurred in caring for the seized or impounded dangerous wild animal.
  2. Upon receipt of a petition, the court must set a hearing on the petition, to be conducted within 5 business days after the petition is filed. The petitioner must serve a true copy of the petition upon the owner of the dangerous wild animal and the entity that seized the dangerous wild animal. The petitioner must also serve a true copy of the petition on any interested person. For the purposes of this Subsection, “interested person” means an individual, partnership, firm, joint stock company, corporation, association, trust, estate, or other legal entity that the court determines may have a pecuniary interest in the animal that is the subject of the petition. The court must set a hearing date to determine any interested parties.
  3. If the court orders the posting of security, the security must be posted with the clerk of the court within 5 business days after the hearing. If the person ordered to post security does not do so, the dangerous wild animal is deemed forfeited by operation of law and the accredited zoo, wildlife sanctuary, temporary holding facility, or animal control agency having custody of the dangerous wild animal shall have legal custody and control over the dangerous wild animal.
  4. Upon judicial determination on the disposition of the seized dangerous wild animal, the person who posted the security is entitled to a refund of the security for any expenses not incurred by the impounding organization or animal control agency.
  5. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to prevent the voluntary, permanent relinquishment of any dangerous wild animal to an institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or a wildlife sanctuary (as defined in Subsection I(E)) in lieu of posting security. Voluntary relinquishment shall have no effect on any criminal charges that may be pursued by the appropriate authorities.

 

VI Escapes

If any dangerous wild animal escapes or is released, either intentionally or unintentionally, the owner of the dangerous wild animal shall immediately contact the local animal control agency to report the escape or release. The owner is liable for all expenses associated with efforts to recapture the animal.

 

VII Penalties

    1. Each violation of this Section, and any rules or laws promulgated pursuant to this Section, is guilty of a misdemeanor, including confinement in jail for not more than 6 months and/or a fine not more than $1,000.
    2. Each violation of Section VI resulting in the animal running loose, causing property damage, or attacking a human being, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, including confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and/or a fine of not more than $2,000.

 

VII Additional Local Restrictions Authorized

Nothing in this Section shall be construed to prohibit a city or county from adopting or enforcing any rule or law that places further restrictions or additional requirements on the possession, sale, transfer, breeding, or exhibition of dangerous wild animals.

Where Are HSUS Funds Going? Not Where You Think.

stop_sign_HSUSIf you have donated to the Humane Society of United States, chances are the only thing you have helped is the HSUS lobbying fund and their lawyer fees. Like you, most of us have been in the dark about the contributions of HSUS when it comes to rescuing pets and animals. HSUS does NOT run a single local shelter and the very little (less than 1%) they donate, goes to the actual welfare of homeless pets.

Richard Rice, Atlanta Humane Society GM says “They (HSUS) may have the resources to initialize the rescue but then again, the animals go to a local shelter somewhere in the country.” It is the local shelters who pay for the upkeep and care of these animals. So if HSUS isn’t contributing towards the care of these animals, then where is all the money ($122 million in 2011) going??

Aptly summed in five words – Fundraising, Advertising, Lobbying, Salaries and Employee pensions and benefits (FALSE):

  • According to their 2011 tax records, 41% of their funds were dedicated to marketing & advertising
  • In 2010, Wayne Pacelle stated that HSUS had about 50 lawyers of the 636 total employees. The White House had 454 employees in 2011!
  • HSUS recently deposited more than $11 million in its executive pension funds
  • HSUS has $32.7 million invested in Wall Street hedge funds
  • HSUS is using your donations for their defense against charges of corruption in federal court

Source:  http://www.humanesocietydonations.org/hsus-facts/?gclid=CIm00N6jrLUCFe1AMgodrjcAJg

HSUS Alert: 2013 State Rankings on Animal Laws

state_ranking_2012HSUS has published its 2012 Humane State Rankings.

Make sure to “mouse over” your state (in the actual link) to see what restrictions HSUS thinks are important to impose upon you.

It identifies the following states as needing to pass more restrictive laws on exotic animal ownership:

  • West Virginia
  • Indiana
  • South Carolina
  • Mississippi
  • Wisconsin
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Idaho

Heads up, Idaho, HSUS says it is working with your government to pass more restrictive exotic animal laws!

HSUS Dangerous Animal Legislation 2013

US Herpetoculture Alliance, Inc.
US Herpetoculture Alliance, Inc.

By Andrew Wyatt

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has launched an aggressive campaign to ban the ownership of exotic animals at the state level. On the heels of Zanesville, where HSUS put intense pressure on Ohio’s Governor Kasich and Senator Balderson to pass a draconian new law that not only bans multiple species of reptiles, it further restricts many more, and can be changed easily without public input. Wayne Pacelle’s blog called the victory in Ohio, one of the “Biggest success stories of 2012”. HSUS has coined the catchphrase ‘Dangerous Wild Animal’ or DWA in order to impose onerous restrictions on the private keeping of these animals, including many species of reptiles, or to create outright bans on their ownership. HSUS has plans to export DWA legislation around the country.

HSUS has used exaggeration and inflammatory rhetoric in trying to paint a picture of pythons as “high maintenance deadly predators.” Debbie Leahy, Captive Wildlife Regulatory Specialist for HSUS said, “Escaped pythons are springing out of toilets, attacking people in gardens and ambushing children playing in their yards.”. These outrageous statements are a veiled attempt to scare legislators and the public into passing unwarranted and unneeded legislation in knee-jerk fear of Dangerous Wild Animals on the attack.

Now they are aggressively attempting to introduce new DWA legislation in a number of states. Some of the states being targeted by the HSUS 2013 DWA legislative initiative are:

Dangerous Wild Animal Initiative 2013
Dangerous Wild Animal Initiative 2013

1. Illinois,

2. Indiana,

3. Missouri,

4. Nevada,

5. Virginia,

6. West Virginia, and

7. Wisconsin

Initiatives in Pennsylvania and South Carolina may be promoted as well. HSUS will attempt to pass this legislation in every state in which they are able to get a foothold.

The Herp Alliance seeks to activate herp societies and herp clubs across the battleground states of the Herp Nation, and rally them to organize and prepare to take action when the time is right. The Herp Alliance will provide the information and tools necessary for coordinated grass roots action. Herp Alliance’s experienced legislative experts ensure strong leadership on the ground, and a powerful focused message in the statehouse. We are appealing to the leaders of the clubs and societies to share news and information as events develop.

Working together we will employ a powerful plan of action. Together we can meet these threats posed out of ignorance and misinformation. Together we will defend the animals that are our passion and livelihoods. It is time to put differences to the side and get to work!

“There is no substitute for experience.” Stay tuned for more news as it happens on the Herp Alliance facebook page, the Herp Alliance blog, and the Herp Alliance web site

Send Questions to: info@usherp.org

“Working together for the Future of Herpetoculture”

HSUS Position on Keeping Reptiles

The article below is HSUS’s written, published opinion that no reptiles should be kept as pets and is from the HSUS web site.

September 25, 2009

Live Reptile Trade
The reptile trade puts human health, the environment, and the animals at risk
The Humane Society of the United States

The recent explosion in the popularity of pet reptiles—the number topped 13 million in 2009, according to the American Pet Products Association—is bad news for people, reptiles, and the environment.

Hazardous pets

People who buy reptiles as pets get more than they bargained for. Virtually all reptiles (even healthy ones) carry Salmonella bacteria. This doesn’t cause a problem for the animals, but for humans, it can be deadly. In humans, salmonellosis causes diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, and may develop into invasive illnesses such as meningitis and sepsis. Children and the elderly are especially at risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 74,000 people each year get salmonellosis from reptiles and amphibians, which means 6% of Salmonellacases in the United States can be linked to these animals.

For the sake of human health, the CDC recommends that reptiles be kept out of households that include children and people with compromised immune systems, and that children and immunocompromised people avoid all contact with reptiles and items the animals have touched. Direct contact with a reptile is not necessary to become sick; Salmonella bacteria can live for days on surfaces.

Because of the health risk, it is illegal to sell small turtles (those with a shell length of less than 4 inches) as pets in the United States. The CDC reports that this ban prevents an additional 100,000 cases of salmonellosis among children each year.

Reptiles pose a threat beyond disease transmission. Snakes and lizards, often sold as hatchlings, can reach six feet or more—posing a physical threat to humans and companion animals. Even small turtles can outgrow their tanks, and their welcome.

A hazardous trade

While many pet reptiles are bred in captivity, many are still taken from the wild or born of wild-caught parents. Each year nearly 2 million live reptiles are imported into the United States, and about 9 million are exported. This poorly regulated trade leaves behind depleted wild populations and damaged habitats. Brute force or gasoline may be used to rouse reptiles from their burrows.

Harsh capture techniques, compounded by poor shipping methods and inadequate care, kill many reptiles before they reach the pet store or dealer. An estimated 90 percent of wild-caught reptiles die in their first year of captivity because of physical trauma prior to purchase or because their owners cannot meet their complex dietary and habitat needs.

Marketed as low-maintenance pets, reptiles are often taken home by families who become overwhelmed by the level of care required. Some reptiles will be abandoned to the wild, where many of them will die from starvation, exposure, or predation. Those who survive often compete with native wildlife for food and habitat, damaging the balance of the ecosystem. Others will be relinquished to shelters, which are not usually equipped to handle these unique animals and which have few options for placing them.

For public health, conservation, and humane reasons, The HSUS recommends that the general public forgo pet reptiles. Wild animals are best left in the wild where they belong.

HSUS: The Pacelle Propaganda Machine Hampers Progress For Animals

By Erika N. Chen-Walsh

This post was previously published on my personal blog, A Legal Perspective, on December 3, 2012.

Wayne Pacelle, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) blogged today, lambasting Andrew Wyatt and U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) for opposing  U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney’s (R-FL) animal rights driven House Resolution 511.  HR 511 seeks to amend title 18, United States Code (the “Lacey Act”), to prohibit the importation of nine species of constrictor snakes as injurious species.  These include the Burmese python, the reticulated python, the North African rock python, the South African rock python, the Boa constrictor, and three species of anaconda.

Andrew Wyatt preparing to testify before the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs

Apparently, the reptile community, led by Andrew Wyatt, has struck a nerve with the $200 million plus per year animal rights legal behemoth, HSUS.  Pacelle’s angst at Wyatt is not particularly surprising.  Since co-founding the United States Association of Reptile Keepers in 2008, Wyatt has emerged victorious in more than two dozen state engagements defending the rights of herptile owners as well as multiple federal entanglements.  These victories have come on a shoestring budget and against HSUS’s powerhouse millions.  Wyatt is most certainly a bothersome thorn in Pacelle’s manicured paw, and one that will not go away.

Pacelle said today, “But the reptile lobby—yes, there is such a thing—has been thrashing its collective tail and saying how benign these snakes are and that cold weather will prevent the snakes from going much farther than the Everglades (I guess it’s no matter to these supposed snake “lovers” that the snakes will freeze to death).”

Pacelle’s comment is interesting for two reasons.  First, using HSUS’s own statistics, 17 people have been killed by large constrictors in the US since 1978.  HSUS further claims that there have been 1,111,768 large constrictors imported since 1977.  Using those figures alone, without factoring in the millions of large constrictors bred in captivity this country since 1978, it makes the risk of death from a large constrictor less than 0.01%.  Large constrictors may not be “benign,” but the risk of being killed by a vending machine, a clothes dryer, a sand hole, a shark attack, a dog or a bee are significantly higher than the statistical risk of being killed by a large constrictor.

Second, Pacelle seems to concede that the snakes will freeze to death if they travel north of the most southern tip of Florida.  HSUSclaims on its own web site about reptiles, “Wild animals are best left in the wild where they belong.”  As great a shock as it may come to HSUS, animals in the wild are not frolicking about making daisy chains and counting stars as they do in Disney movies.  Wild animals die of disease, injury, predation, starvation, and yes, from the elements of nature.

Clearly, Pacelle’s remark is intended only to inure sympathy from animal lovers who don’t truly understand the issue. HSUS has used similar rhetoric about dog breeders, showing a decided recalcitrance to distinguish between responsible breeders and puppy mills.  Responsible reptile owners and breeders do not want to see the suffering of any herptile, and they certainly don’t advocate releasing any captive reptiles into the wild.

Pacelle’s tantrum continues, “Somehow the snake lobby, in the form of the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, has hoodwinked a number of Republican House members and apparently convinced them that this is a matter of “economic freedom.”

This is about economic freedom. HSUS does not have the right to deprive American citizens of their property interests and their livelihoods simply because Pacelle doesn’t agree with reptile ownership.  It must be incredibly empowering for one person to believe that his ideology should translate into law for every American citizen, but it is the duty of lawmakers to protect the interests of their constituents, no matter how much it upsets Mr. Pacelle.  The majority of people involved in true herpetoculture, the breeding and ownership of captive bred reptiles, care immensely about the health and welfare of the animals they keep.  (If Pacelle is truly concerned about the welfare of animals, perhaps he should revisit his endorsement of convicted dog fighting felon, Michael Vick, who, for a monetary donation, now receives Pacelle’s endorsement.)

Pacelle speciously condemns U.S. Rep. Southerland for condoning the import of  “dangerous invasive species into the country for use as pets, even if they are creating ecological havoc, injuring and killing private citizens, and costing the nation millions of dollars in terms of containment activities.”  (When he hasn’t got facts, he embellishes.)  Notably, Pacelle provides no back up for his inflammatory and false rhetoric.  HSUS’s fall back plan is to continue to terrify the public about non existent threats in order to feather HSUS’s own legal nest.  (HSUS has conceded in its Motion to Intervene in Ohio that it has an economic interest in winning legislative engagements because doing so attracts more monetary donations.  I will be writing on that topic next.)  If Pacelle needs to succeed in state and federal legislatures in order to attract the hundreds of millions of dollars that pay his six figure salary, perhaps he should set his sights on those more dangerous predators, such as vending machines, clothes dryers and sand holes.

U.S. Representatives Fleming and Southerland, Dr. Brady Barr, Shawn Heflick, Colette Sutherland and Andrew Wyatt should be commended for bringing facts to the table regarding the threat of pythons in the Everglades and the economic impact of arbitrary and capricious government action.  The role of our representatives in Congress is to protect our rights from unnecessary and harmful legislation, not to ensure that Pacelle has enough “wins” to fund HSUS into perpetuity.

South Dakota Resolution to Oppose Ballot Initiatives from HSUS and PETA

South-Dakota-State-SealState of South Dakota
EIGHTY-SEVENTH SESSION
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY, 2012

174T0313 HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 1006

Introduced by: Representatives Fargen, Brunner, Conzet, Cronin, Dennert, Feickert, Gibson, Greenfield, Hawley, Hoffman, Hunhoff (Bernie), Iron Cloud III, Jones, Killer, Kirschman, Kloucek, Kopp, Lucas, Lust, Nelson (Stace), Olson (Betty), Rausch, Russell, Schaefer, Schrempp, Sigdestad, Street, Turbiville, Vanneman, Verchio, White, Wink, and Wismer and Senators Krebs, Begalka, Bradford, Brown, Frerichs, Gray, Hansen (Tom), Hundstad, Juhnke, Lederman, Maher, Nelson (Tom), Olson (Russell), Rampelberg, Rave, Rhoden, Schlekeway, Sutton, and Vehle

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, in opposition to certain actions by animal rights groups to undermine agricultural producers.

WHEREAS, South Dakota’s rich history is primarily based on agriculture and agricultural products; and

WHEREAS, South Dakota’s economy is largely based on agricultural goods and services; and

WHEREAS, agriculture has a twenty-one billion dollar impact on our state economy; and

WHEREAS, our rural heritage and future well-being depend primarily on a strong agricultural base; and

WHEREAS, animal agriculture is a critical component of South Dakota’s economy and agricultural infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, farmers and ranchers understand the importance of humane treatment and care of all farm animals; and

WHEREAS, misleading information has negatively impacted the agriculture industry; and

WHEREAS, extreme animal rights organizations pose a significant risk to agricultural producers and the agricultural community in South Dakota and in the nation as a whole:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-seventh Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, opposes any attempt for any ballot initiative or acts by the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and other animal rights groups that would undermine the livelihood of agricultural producers.

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ASPCA Settles Lawsuit with Ringling Brothers for $9.3 Million

By JESSICA GRESKO | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — An animal rights group will pay Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus $9.3 million to settle a lawsuit the circus filed after courts found that activists paid a former circus worker for his help in claiming the circus abused elephants.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Friday it was not admitting any wrongdoing in settling the lawsuit. The New York-based animal rights group was one of several involved in a lawsuit filed in 2000 against the circus’ owner, Feld Entertainment Inc., claiming elephants were abused. Courts later found that the animal rights activists had paid a former Ringling barn helper involved in the lawsuit at least $190,000, making him “essentially a paid plaintiff” who lacked credibility.

Two courts agreed the former barn helper, Tom Rider, wasn’t credible and didn’t have a right to sue. As a result, they didn’t address claims the circus violated the federal Endangered Species Act by allegedly chaining the elephants for long periods and allowing trainers to use sharp tools called bullhooks.

The Vienna, Va.-based Feld Entertainment Inc. sued the animal rights groups and Rider in 2007, accusing them of conspiring to harm the company’s business and other illegal acts. The lawsuit claims the groups were working together with the goal of permanently banning Asian elephants from circuses.

Friday’s settlement covers only the ASPCA. Twelve other defendants including The Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Welfare Institute and The Fund for Animals are still involved in the lawsuit.

The ASPCA said in a statement that “this litigation has stopped being about the elephants a long time ago” and that officials decided it was in the group’s best interest to resolve the lawsuit after more than a decade.

The chairman of Feld Entertainment, Kenneth Feld, said in a statement that the settlement was a vindication for the company and its employees.