May 22, 2013. For over twenty years, it has been illegal in this state to own a constrictor 15′ in length or longer. Today, the Illinois General Assembly failed to pass SB 2362 (the “Herptile Code”) which would have lifted the ban on constrictors over 15′ in length and eased restrictions on venomous snakes. In addition, the Herptile Code would have removed all reptiles and amphibians from the Illinois Dangerous Animals Act.
The Herptile Code is the brainchild of Scott Ballard, Heritage Biologist and Herpetologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Ballard wrote the Herptile Code with significant input and feedback from the reptile community over the past year, including Rob Carmichael, Brian Potter, Erika Chen-Walsh, and many, many others within the reptile community.
Although the Herptile Code swept through the Senate with a unanimous vote of 54 in favor, it encountered some resistance in the House. HSUS opposed the Herptile Code at both Senate and House Committee hearings and issued an action alert opposing SB 2362. In addition, multiple Illinois Republican representatives informed us that they had received emails from an individual in the pet industry raising objections to the Herptile Code. The House voted today 38 in favor and 78 opposed. The bill is now dead.
Andrew Wyatt and Erika Chen-Walsh sent 118 faxes and Michael Stevens hand delivered 298 hard copy letters written by Herp Alliance to Illinois legislators in support of the Herptile Code. Wyatt and Chen-Walsh made nearly 100 phone calls and we spent the day in Springfield, speaking directly to Republican legislators opposing SB 2362 on May 14th.
The Herptile Code was the first bill from 2013 that would have provided a tangible improvement to reptile legislation. Unfortunately, amid opposition from the powerful animal rights industry and the pet industry, the House did not carry the votes.
Illinois Senate Bill 2362 (3rd Amendment) just passed out of the Illinois Senate on a vote of 54-0 in favor on April 25, 2013. On April 30, 2013, it had its first reading in the Illinois House of Representatives where it has been referred to the Agriculture and Conservation Committee. A full list of those committee members can be found in this link.
Here are the major talking points in support of SB 2362:
SB 2362 has wide support within the State: trade show organizers, zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, private breeders, pet store owners, pet owners and the public.
SB 2362 will enhance public safety.
In the history of Illinois, there has only been a single documented incident involving a human injury from a captive reptile (1999) and if SB 2362 had been in place, it would not have occurred because the python would have been in an escape proof enclosure.
However, SB 2362 imposes caging requirements and management practices on all keepers of constrictor snakes and other appropriate species.
It establishes a permit system for the keeping of limited venomous animals and certain monitor lizards and requires liability insurance covering those animals.
SB 2362 imposes strict liability on all reptile and amphibian keepers for incidents arising out of the keeping of such animals. Illinois has a similar legislation in place for equines.
SB 2362 will also protect the animals.
The caging, education and care requirements for limited venomous reptiles and monitor lizards provide a sound basis for good animal husbandry to allow qualified people to work with these special animals.
SB 2362 is good for Illinois Business.
The reptile industry in Illinois generates approximately $25 million in revenues for our state.
The reptile industry employs individuals, supports small Illinois businesses and supplements the income of thousands of Illinois families.
SB 2362 protects the industries that generate that income for Illinois. It protects the right of private keepers to responsibly keep reptiles and amphibians in this state and allows these thriving small businesses to continue to grow and operate.
SB 2362 reduces bureaucracy.
By placing all reptile and amphibians under the umbrella of a single statute, SB 2362 simplifies enforcement of all issues concerning these animals.
In summary, SB 2362 is good for the Illinois public; it is good for the animals; it is good for Illinois business, and it simplifies enforcement of Illinois law. SB 2362 is good for Illinois.
HSUS is seeking to amend SB 2362. The features of the amendment sought by HSUS:
Total ban on all crocodilians;
Total ban on all venomous;
Total ban on the keeping of Komodo dragons and crocodile monitors;
Keeping of all pythons (including ball pythons), anacondas and all boas with permit only, including liability insurance and only for educational programs.
HSUS is seeking to ban the breeding of all pythons, boas and anacondas entirely in Illinois.