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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”

The Death of HR 511

congressBy Andrew Wyatt

Today the 112th Congress came to a close, and with that HR511, aka “The Python Ban” died a quiet death. HR511 was a legislative version of the recent rule making by US Fish & Wildlife Service to add nine constrictor snakes to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. Where the rule making fell short by adding only the Burmese python and 3 other snakes, HR511 would have superseded the rule making adding all nine snakes to the Injurious list. Much to the chagrin of animal rights advocates, after two years and two congressional hearings, HR511 has finally been defeated.

Introduced in early 2011 by Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL), HR511 languished with very little attention for about one year. In early 2012 the bill moved to a mark up hearing and was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee with two amendments that would require “knowingly violating” the law, and provide exemptions for certain shippers. Uncharacteristically, HR511 was held for legal review until September.

Upon its final release by the Judiciary Committee, HR511 was picked up by the House Natural Resources Committee for hearing. Andrew Wyatt was the first expert witness chosen to testify on behalf of herpetoculture by committee staff. Wyatt nominated Dr. Brady Barr of the National Geographic Society and Shawn Heflick of NatGeo WILD also be called as expert witnesses. PIJAC recommended Colette Sutherland to represent the pet industry.

On November 29th, 2012, Chairman John Flemming (R-LA) the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs held a full hearing. Wyatt used the new cold weather study by Jacobson et al, 2012 as the central argument demonstrating why pythons were unable to survive north of the southern tip of Florida. Heflick and Barr related their “boots on the ground” experience with pythons in the Everglades supporting the findings of Jacobson et al. Colette Sutherland gave a heartfelt depiction of the impact that unjust legislation would have on her family, business and other similar businesses. Wyatt reinforced that HR511, if passed, would have an economic impact of as much as $104 million annually.

Wyatt, Heflick and Barr were extremely effective in convincing the subcommittee that HR511 was based on fundamentally flawed science and would be a “job killer” in a time of economic hardship. With herpetoculture advocates now proactively dictating the narrative regarding the question of south florida pythons, the committee decided to discharge HR511 without a vote; thus curtailing all momentum from the bill.

Today HR511 died with the close of the 112th Congress.