Tag Archives: US Herpetoculture 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.

Kansas Seeks to Ban Venomous Snakes: SB 132

Kansas SB 132 Seeks to Ban ALL Non-native Venomous Snakes
Kansas SB 132 Seeks to Ban ALL Non-native Venomous Snakes

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. 

640px-American_Bar_Association.svgNow, 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.

 

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.

 

 

 

NC Reptile Ban: HSUS Dangerous Wild Animals

Reptile Ban: HSUS to Introduce DWA Legislation to NC in 2015

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.

Nicole Paquette is The HSUS's Vice President of Wildlife Protection.  Photo: Pete Marovich/For The HSUS
Nicole Paquette is The HSUS’s Vice President of Wildlife Protection.
Photo: Pete Marovich/For The HSUS

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

Dunedin Votes to Kill Snake Ban

Dunedin City Commission
Dunedin City Commission Votes to Kill Snake Ban

In a move foreshadowed to the US Herpetoculture Alliance by Dunedin City officials on Monday, December 15th, the City Commission voted minutes ago to remove all references to snakes from from ordinance 14-30 (Animals).

On December 3rd the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) reported that, “Dunedin, Florida will likely pass a ban on nearly all snakes…” USARK was referring to a proposed amendment by the Dunedin City Commission of an ordinance banning “poisonous” snakes, adding “constrictor snakes more than 4 ft long.”

The US Herpetoculture Alliance also reported back on the 3rd of December, and again last Monday, that according to the Florida State Constitution, regulation of wildlife was solely under the authority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and thus ordinance 14-30 and the proposed amendment to add constricting snakes was unconstitutional.

“We are happy to be constitutionally compliant.” ~ Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski

Dr Don Woodman, DVM
Dr Don Woodman, DVM

Fortunately, Dunedin City officials were open to a reasonable conversation. Dr. Don Woodman, DVM immediately went to work personally contacting the City Commission and explaining the constitutional conundrum. At the suggestion of the US Herpetoculture Alliance, Dr Woodman supplied case law to City Attorney Thomas Trask demonstrating legal precedent for our constitutional argument. Tonight, with Dr. Woodman in attendance, the City Commission voted to strike all reference to snakes from ordinance 14-30.

“Thank you to the Dunedin City Commission for considering legal precedent in their decision.” ~ Dr. Don Woodman, DVM

This was truly a team victory. USARK was able to raise the profile of the issue with a large grass roots email campaign, and Dr. Woodman was able to make a well supported and effective legal argument. Dunedin herpers can now breath a sigh of relief. The Dunedin snake ban has been averted!

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.

Herp Alliance Comments on Federal Boa & Python Ban: Did you?

US Fish & Wildlife Seeks to Add Five Snakes to Injurious List
US Fish & Wildlife Seeks to Add Five Snakes to Injurious List

Will 5 More Constricting Snakes be Added
to the Injurious Wildlife List?

The US Herpetoculture Alliance alerted the reptile community back in May that US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) planned to re-open the public comment period regarding the “Constrictor Rule.” On June 23rd FWS officially announced the re-opening of a 30 day public comment period as expected; deadline of July 24th at 11:59pm EDT. Herp Alliance filed detailed public comments prior to the deadline. Did you make public comment? Please share your official comment in our comment section below.

In January 2012 FWS published a rule in the Federal Register that added the Burmese python, Indian python, northern and southern African pythons, and the yellow anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. The Constrictor Rule added 5 of the 10 snakes originally proposed for listing, however five remaining snakes (Boa constrictor, reticulated python,  green anaconda, DeShauensee’s anaconda and Beni anaconda) were not listed at that time, but remained “under consideration.”

Although the reopening of public comment was welcome news and an additional opportunity to provide critical information for the public record, the Herp Alliance believes this action is a clear signal that FWS is prepared to finalize the Constrictor Rule that was finalized in part on January 23, 2012 (77 FR 3330)– adding some or all of the remaining five species of constricting snakes to the Injurious List. Any species listed on the Injurious List cannot be imported into the country nor transported across state lines without a special permit from FWS.

The US Herpetoculture Alliance filed detailed public comment with FWS opposing the proposed rule to add the remaining five species to the Injurious list. We urge you to read them. Our argument focused on the “best available economic and scientific data” and pointed out the egregious flaws in the FWS justification for rule making. Some of the points included:

  1. Major Rule
  2. Scientific Underpinnings
  3. Best Available Science
  4. Arbitrary and Capricious
  5. Conclusions

Additionally, Herp Alliance worked with the best and the brightest in the scientific and legal community coordinating many high quality comments. Please read our public comment and post your thoughts below in our comment section. If you made public comment with FWS, please SHARE with us and please include the tracking number assigned to you.

Herp Alliance tracking number: 1jy-8der-hvz9

Read the US Herpetoculture Alliance Official Public Comments here.

HR 2158 “Snakes on a Plane” Goes to Markup

OperatingAirlinesHeader_tcm14-4317The US Herpetoculture Alliance has learned that, HR 2158: Expedited Departure of Certain Snake Species Act, dubbed the “snakes on a plane” act will go to a markup hearing tomorrow, July 16th, before the full US House Natural Resources Committee. Congressman John Fleming (R-LA), Chair of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, is the sponsor.

HR 2158 would allow for greater flexibility in the export of Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus), Indian pythons (Python molurus molurus), Northern African pythons (Python sebae), Southern African pythons (Python natalensis) and Yellow anacondas (Eunectes notaeus) out of the United States.

Currently export may occur only through designated ports as defined by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  When an aircraft departs with export from one of these ports, it may not land within the United States.

HR 2158 would continue to allow for export from 17 designated ports. In addition, it would allow such carriers to make  intermediate stops in other states prior to final departure within a 48 hour time period as long as secure containment protocols are maintained.  HR 2158 does NOT address interstate transport.

Herp Alliance expects that HR 2158 will be marked up and reported out of the US House Natural Resources Committee tomorrow. Whether this bill has the momentum to move further than this remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for updates and analysis from the Herp Alliance.

FWS To Finalize Python Ban: Public Comment Reopens Tomorrow!

The US Herpetoculture Alliance has just learned that the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) will reopen public comment on the “Constrictor Rule” tomorrow. The FWS has announced that public comment will be reopened for 30 days. Further, FWS has decided to reopen the public comment period, but only for the five remaining species that were NOT listed in 2012. The Herp Alliance expects to see FWS publish this announcement in the Federal Register on June 24, 2014.

This action was announced by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) last month, but when reported on by Herp Alliance, was discounted by those with poor access to information in Washington DC as “fear mongering.” Our information is always the most accurate and timely available regarding the future of herpetoculture.

Although reopening public comment is positive news, the Herp Alliance believes this action to be a clear signal that FWS is prepared to finalize the Constrictor Rule that was finalized in part on January 23, 2012 (77 FR 3330)– adding 4 species of constricting snakes to the In jurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. Any species listed on the Injurious List cannot be imported into the country nor transported across state lines without a special permit from FWS.

In January 2012 FWS published a rule in the Federal Register that added the Burmese python, northern African python, southern African python and yellow anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. The Constrictor Rule accounted for 4 of the 9 snakes originally proposed for listing. The remaining 5 snakes, Boa constrictor, reticulated python,  green anaconda, DeShauensee’s anaconda and Beni anaconda were not listed at that time, but remained “under consideration.”

FWS is likely hoping to add information to support their case to list the 5 remaining snakes.  It is imperative that the Reptile Nation respond with quality comments to counter their case. Time is of the essence. Hopefully the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) has been coaching it’s members in making quality comment, apprising members of the scientific community of the impending comment period, and updating economic surveys and profiles since the economic survey done in 2011. This is an unparalleled opportunity to influence the final disposition of the Constrictor Rule. The Reptile Nation cannot afford a misstep now.

Read Public Announcement Here

 

 

 

FWS to Re-open Public Comment on Boas and Pythons!

Boas, retics and green anacondas could be listed as Injurious under the Lacey Act.
Boas, retics and green anacondas could be listed as Injurious under the Lacey Act.

The US Herpetoculture Alliance has just learned that US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has given notice to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) that public comment on the Constrictor Rule will be re-opened. Although positive news, the Herp Alliance believes this action to be a clear signal that FWS is prepared to finalize the Constrictor Rule that was finalized in part on January 23, 2012 (77 FR 3330)– adding 4 species of constricting snakes to the In jurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. Any species listed on the Injurious List cannot be imported into the country nor transported across state lines without a special permit from FWS.

In January 2012 FWS published a rule in the Federal Register that added the Burmese python, northern African python, southern African python and yellow anaconda to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. The Constrictor Rule accounted for 4 of the 9 snakes originally proposed for listing. The remaining 5 snakes, Boa constrictor, reticulated python,  green anaconda, DeShauensee’s anaconda and Beni anaconda were not listed at that time, but remained “under consideration.”

FWS has now given formal notice to OIRA that is is prepared to move forward to finalize the rule adding Boas, Retics and 3 anacondas to the Injurious List. Although FWS has announced to OIRA that they will re-open public comment on the Constrictor Rule, they have not indicated when it will re-open, or for how long. Details will be published in the Federal Register. Herp Alliance expects it to be very soon.

Stay tuned to Herp Alliance for fast breaking updates, news and analysis.